I am so blessed. I am reminiscing this morning about my past experiences and the people who I have been fortunate enough to cross paths with. Every person I have come in contact with has been a teacher to me in one way or another, but my heart feels especially large this morning as I think specifically about my music teachers.
Being a good teacher takes a very special person with very specific traits. All of my music teachers have had huge hearts, endless patience, and so much compassion. I think what has touched me the most about these people who have left such a huge footprint in my life, is that despite my experiences, situations, and being led where life has and will lead me – they continue to be a vital part of my existence; they continue to love. I had a few teachers who weren’t music teachers who I look back fondly on and still stay in touch with. For example, my third grade teacher was one of the best I’ve ever had and she will always hold a place in my heart. But aside from a select few – the ones who have impacted me the most have all been my music teachers. Maybe because I spent the most time with them…they made the effort to get to know ME, and they were (and still are) great listeners. I always felt I could go to them with problems, music related or not, and they were always willing to make time and space for me in their lives.
I studied privately with the same teacher for 11 years. She and I spent countless hours together, not only practicing and learning music, but talking. Those hour long lessons were the fastest hour of my entire week – we discussed everything. She cared deeply about my well being, not just about whether I had practiced enough or played well enough in tune. She was always there to listen – she still is. She is a beautiful human being and while I was growing up she was my role model because she is so talented but so humble at the same time. I had the same orchestra director for 7 years (middle and high school). Between being gone at school all day and both my parents having demanding jobs – it’s very likely that I spent just as many of my waking hours with her, as I did with my parents. She and I were (and still are) close and I love that she has shown me that she cares more for me than just my music career or where it has led me in life. She has a deep soul and is such a talented individual, and she has set a marvelous example for me. And of course, I can’t forget the woman with whom it all started – my elementary violin teacher! I had group lessons at school twice a week with her for 6 years. She has been such a light in my life, particularly as of late because even though we are both so busy and life gets crazy, when we do finally have a chance to catch up – it’s like a beat was never missed (no pun intended – but maybe just a little pun was intended haha) I think what is most memorable to me is the time that she told me, “You are special for more than just music. If you ever need someone to talk too, you can call me. I’ll always listen.” And that means more to me than I could ever describe. All three of these wonderful souls provide support for me and have made it clear that, although our initial connection was through music, there is much more to our relationship than just that.
This may seem arbitrary, but to me it is existential. I have extremely low personal self worth. Meaning, I used to not see an identity for myself outside of my music. I was my seat in orchestra, my audition scores, my solo performance, my number of right (and wrong) notes, the level of composure that I held (which was a facade that was cracking from the inside out). I thought that people only cared about me because I had something to offer them. I believed that I owed people just because they were nice to me or if anyone did anything for me I wanted to pay them back two times over! These ladies have proven to me (particularly over the past year) that I am worth more than just a status, name, accomplishment, etc. These teachers have done more than just teach me an art – they have taught me love. They have filled voids that had previously left my heart ripped open; acted as family in place of family that acted otherwise.
I am learning how to love myself. And in loving myself, I also have more room to love others. I have space to nurture these relationships and give back to people all that they are truly seeking, and that is love.
This summer, I taught my own students for the very 1st time. I had 5 boys and a little girl. They have each taught me an enormous amount. They are innocent, young, naïve, energetic, intuitive, gentle, and all hard workers. I just want to hug them and protect them from the cruelty, of the outside world. I cherish my time with them and look forward to the exciting (and often, very humorous) new things they, and myself, will learn. My hope is that they will learn from me what I was fortunate enough to learn from my own teachers. I hope they learn how to love who they are, what they have to offer, and that they make their identity in Christ – not in their accomplishments or in how many people know their name and like them. I’m not widely known, liked, or even all that talented, but I know love and I have my identity in something much greater than my musical accomplishments. Thanks to the people who taught me well. To my parents, my teachers growing up, my teacher now, and all the people who taught me valuable lessons in life – keep striving, keep learning, keep teaching.
“What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.”
― Paulo Coelho, The Witch of Portobello