One Time, I Killed My Piano Teacher

One Time, I Killed My Piano Teacher

by: Alex Lee

One time, I killed my piano teacher.

I didn’t realize it till years later, but it’s true. She was mean and unhappy and wanted to make sure I was unhappy too. She succeeded. I remember one lesson she made me play the B scale for 30 minutes because after 4 weeks I still had no idea which keys to press. She gave me the silent treatment, and I tried not to cry the whole time. Shortly thereafter, a younger version of me prayed to God that she (insert little kid voice with a sniffle) “Would never have to deal with Mrs. Moody ever ever ever again.”

Next lesson, she was sick.

Lesson after that, she was dead.

True story, it was a brain tumor.

Needless to say, I make DARN sure my students don’t experience an occasion to pray for my demise. If you are a loving parent reading this, you’re probably dying to ask me:

“Why the heck didn’t you tell your mom how horrible this teacher was to you?!”

I did! Countless times! And it wasn’t just Mrs. Moody (name changed), it was a long list of tired, impatient, joyless piano teachers that sucked the joy of playing right out of me. Now, I did have some good teachers later on; but, for a seven year streak I really wanted to quit playing piano.

The reason I started playing was because my mom did first. I remember hearing her play Canon in D for the first time and a big fat ocean of goodness washed over me and I just knew that if I could play it… then that would be something really special. Soon after I was taking lessons, she quit, but she never let me.

Can I just tell you that me not having my way was one of the best things that has ever happened to me?

Do you know,

I can play some beautiful works of complex art that have been loved and played for hundreds of years

I can make up songs and hear melodies and actually get them out? Actually play them

My full time job is teaching one of the things I love most!

Do you know how much I love what I do? And that I wouldn’t have any of this if my mom had let me quit when I begged her?

My mom knew I loved it at the start and when I was doing good on my songs, so she saw past my fickle eight year old fits of not wanting to play piano because I wasn’t good at my songs, or because they were hard, or because I hadn’t practiced and she knew that I could be good if I stuck it out. So she made me stick it out.

The way I see it: it’s my job to teach them, their job to practice, and your job to discipline. I can promise you that I will never make your kid cry, that I will always call out the best in them, that I will do my very best to inspire them and teach them what they need to know and make it as fun as possible. I see them for 2 hours a month. You are with them approximately 718 hours a month.

Think about your son or daughter. Think about where they could be in just 5 years if you and I work together to train them and inspire them! Help them find a regular time to practice. Listen, appreciate, and be interested in what they’re playing! Everyone loves to bring enjoyment and be appreciated. Encourage them! Remind them how much fun they’ve had in the past when they’re on a tricky song and are feeling discouraged. Help them see how much they’ll enjoy that tricky song once they’ve mastered it! Piano isn’t always fun. Sometimes you have to learn a waltz that is about as harmonic as a cat in a meat grinder. Sometimes, your fingers just don’t want to cooperate! It can be frustrating, but kids aren’t born with self-discipline. They don’t know how to see past present frustrations to future possibilities; that has to be taught to them. No one was born being able to play masterfully -except for child prodigies, which is just unfair.

At any rate, I hope you’ll take this to heart. Unless your kid has been influenced by radioactive pianos, giving them piano super-skills like Rachmaninoff, they need both of our help to reach their full potential. I’ve found it immensely fulfilling to be a part of shaping people into passionate musicians who are knowledgeable and enjoy what they can do, and I’m not even their parent! Imagine the impact you can have and the role you can play in helping cultivate an ability that could be such a gift in their lives.

– Alex Lee –

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