Our town is slowly recovering from the effects of Florence. School has been back in for over a month, the debris piles are being picked up by the ‘claw of happiness’, as the locals have dubbed it, and in my studio we are starting to work on holiday music. Because of the hurricane and the disruption to the schedule, we have kept the fall into practice challenge going through October, and my students are so used to telling me how many days they practiced that we’re still going strong in November. I have been impressed and touched and so proud of the students who have worked hard to practice consistently and get the twenty days of practicing certificate.
Everyone was effected by the hurricane in different ways. Some of my students had damage to their houses, and one family is still displaced and living in a temporary house while theirs is being repaired. So it is impressive and inspiring that, despite the obstacles, parents and their students keep showing up for lessons. Parents continue to ask me “what should we practice this week?” or “how can I help ____ this week?”
Seeing this dedication reminds me of a podcast episode I listened to this summer. It was an episode of Building Noble Hearts by the Suzuki Association of the Americas. I won’t
summarize the episode, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. I did find one phrase mentioned very interesting: an adult, describing her memories of practicing with her dad as a child, said “I felt very important because my dad was choosing to spend time with me.”
Even though the musical concept she was learning was difficult, and she was dealing with the natural angst and frustration of learning something new, she also recognized that her father valued her enough to take time out of his day and work with her.
This is one of the beautiful possibilities of music. As the child learns, the parent has the opportunity to spend time with their child, to strengthen the relationship, to learn more about their child and about themselves.
Parents- every time you listen to your child practice, every time you come and sit in the lesson, every time you say, “I know this is hard. Try it again,” you are communicating that, in that moment, your child is worth the time investment.
Take the time to invest in your relationship with your child. Be present. Come to the lesson. Encourage them to keep striving, even when the concepts are hard and seem insurmountable.
In ten or fifteen years, your child may not be playing piano anymore (although that would be nice), but they will remember the time you spent with them, and your relationship will be stronger because of it.
I am so grateful to the parents who are investing in their children. I am grateful for the students who have worked hard to establish a practicing routine. Let's keep up the momentum and continue to grow in our musical knowledge and strengthen our relationships.
As Suzuki famously wrote:
"Do not hurry, do not rest."
I am a piano teacher who loves teaching music and discussing personality styles. I also enjoy playing music with others, whether that is chamber music, piano duets, or singing in a choir. My favorite composers are Bach and Haydn.