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Coming Alongside in Piano Teaching

In the ancient scriptures, the Bible, there is a phrase that the author of Chronicles uses to describe the duties of musicians serving in the Temple: "...both student and teacher alike." I love this description.

Yes - there is a clear delineation between teacher and student; between master and learner; between sensei and beginner. But, in the duties that they share together, there is a commonality and a shared experience. There is a learning by doing for both teacher and student.

When I sit next to students in piano lessons, I do so intentionally. I want to come alongside of them and learn the music with them. Through my great teachers, I have learned to come to a score with a beginner's mind and curiosity. I find myself learning more and more in piano lessons as I apply this approach.

You may have had the opposite experience. A dominating, demanding and nasty "teacher"; yelling and screaming out there edicts as if they were a piano god. This is not teaching. This is creating fear and trepidation with music that is to be enjoyed and loved. At worse, this form of 'teaching' can be abusive and criminal charges or civil action should take place; at best, it preys upon the insecurities of students and creates a loathing toward the musical experience. Either way, it is not the path that we as piano teachers should pursue.

It is best to come alongside someone in their creative journey. There is a stewardship issue here in teaching. We are blessed as piano teachers to have the incredible and miraculous opportunity to peruse the great minds of composers and pianists on a day to day basis. Providentially, students come along our pathway as gifts to us. They inspire and come to us with curiosity and a beginner's mind. It is our duty and honor to come alongside them, humbly, and show them the way.

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