Why do you teach piano?

A familiar scenario –

Teacher: “I’m excited to teach today!”

“I just love my students!”

“I love my job!”

“I love the piano!”

“I love music!”

“I want to instill value in the next generation!”

“I am so excited to teach today!”

Student shows up and sits down at the piano.

Opens the book.

No practice at all.

Teacher is frustrated.

There’s hope, though.

Maybe the student will crack open his book next week and practice the notes on the page.

Teacher delivers an inspiring message to the student, challenges him, then sends him on his way.

It’s lesson day again.

Teacher: “I am so excited to teach today.”

Student comes in.

The teacher is thrilled.

Student sits at the piano, opens his book, places his hands on the keys.

No practice yet again.

Teacher is frustrated, but musters enough energy and enough encouragement, from within, to say, “All is well. We’ll try again next week.”

Teacher is hopeful, and as the week presses on begins to get excited again.

It’s lesson day.

Teacher: “I am so excited to teach today!”

Student comes in and sits down at the piano.

No practice.

So, why do we do it?

Why do we put ourselves in this situation?

We’re trained musicians.

We’ve studied our instrument and become experts in our craft.

Why do we do it??

Why pour into students who, week after week, show up unprepared?

What’s the reason?

Why teach if it’s yielding the same results over, and over again?

Well, I can’t speak for you, but I can tell you why I do it.

Because I know I have something important to say.

One phrase that I speak to a student who is having a bad day (or an awesome day),  or experiencing something traumatic, might inspire and encourage her.

At some point, I’m going to say something that rings in that kid’s head from now through the rest of her life.

She’s going to know that Mr. Chris loves piano, Mr. Chris loves music, and Mr. Chris loves her!

Yes, it’s frustrating when students don’t practice.

It’s frustrating when they come to lesson after lesson unprepared, wasting our time and their parents’ hard-earned money.

And, I’d be remiss if I didn’t say we should look for ways to encourage our students to practice.

And, not only them… But to encourage their parents to be more actively involved in their child’s music education, so that they’re not wasting their money, and so that their child is actually learning.

But, at the same time, even though your students are not always prepared, keep pouring into them.

They love you.

They respect you.

You may not witness it every single time you see the student, but keep up the outstanding work you’re doing.

Encourage them.

Teach them that music is important.

That music is a way to express themself.

Music is a gift that keeps giving.

One day, your student might just end up… Not in a concert hall or in front of thousands of people, not on the Naxos recording label…

But, at the local retirement facility, playing for the elderly.

Or, at a local community event raising funds for folks affected by a recent natural disaster.

Or, playing for a church worship service.

Or, just playing for their family at home, or for their own enjoyment.

What you’re doing is not going unnoticed.

You’re doing important work.

Keep it up!

Keep pouring into your students’ lives and know that you’re making a difference.

I hope this encourages you today.

I’d love to hear from you!

Why do you teach?

How do you stay inspired when your students don’t practice?

Please leave a comment below.

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8 Replies to “Why do you teach piano?”

  1. I love to teach because it’s very rewarding to see when a student gets “it” after many trials and errors. I love to teach because kids don’t understand that music is essential to their feelings and emotion. I love teach because I believe that everyone has the capability to play something easy and fun if he/she is willing to put some time into the practice, because I tell them it’s not luck or talent that I know how to play, compose and create. This is a true story: one time, I played one of the Beatles song from the fake book and the first 4 measures have no music notes in them, I played the introduction exactly the way that it sounded in the CD, my student looked at me in shock and say “there is no notes, how to do you do that?” I answered with this “I started piano at your age and I never stopped practicing”.

  2. I’ve been teaching full time for two years now, and it’s so easy to become discouraged when I feel my students are not making progress. Thank you for this reminder.

  3. One of my favorite rewarding moments: A young 5 year old piano student came in her mother’s arms….she was smiling but, her mom said, “She didn’t want to get out of the car because she wanted to hear the rest of the song on the radio.” I said, “Well, great! Let’s go figure out how to play it on the piano!!” Her eyes lit up but, she was not convinced! I had to YouTube it because I didn’t know it (!) but….when we started finding the correct notes on the keyboard, she was amazed! She guess she thought piano lessons were all about playing the songs in her lesson books! We wrote down the notes and lyrics in a way she could understand and it opened up a whole world of understanding music for her!

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