Our Student-Teacher Mentorship Program
It took one person to believe that I had the knowledge, skill, and potential to teach the skill I’d been working on since I was 8yrs old: piano playing. I was 17yrs old when my piano teacher told me,
“I think you should teach piano. I believe you can and should start doing some piano lessons.”
Honestly, I was just too shy to tell her I didn’t think I could. I didn’t even have time to work up the courage to decline the offer because just a few days later, I was booked my first piano student. I’ll never forget one of the tips she gave my as I began my teaching career,
“Grow a beard. That will make you look older and parents won’t think you’re so young.”
I quickly developed a PASSION for finding better ways to communicate and connect with the students that were quickly coming. I embarked on a journey of learning as much as I could about piano pedagogy, attended music conferences, read books, and would take in as much advice as I could from master teachers that I’d be surrounded by in the years to come.
CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR OTHERS
I’m convinced my piano teacher had no idea that 15yrs later I’d be writing this post as the founder of a local music school to introduce our very own Student-Teacher Mentorship Program. I find myself in a position where I can now give other young musicians the opportunity to explore where music teaching can lead them. As I’ve seen many of my long-time piano students finish high school and leave for college, it occurred to me that I have the opportunity to impact their lives even beyond our time together as my students.
Music has a positive impact in all students that take lessons for an extended period of time. But for those few, music becomes a passion and becomes part of the person themselves. It is for those few that I now have the opportunity to give them more.
“If I can pass on the skill of great piano teaching, they can take that ANYWHERE they go after high school. It doesn’t matter what town they attend college, they can go to a local church and/or music store and say ‘I have 1-2yrs experience teaching piano at Musical Living Academy in McAllen and I’d like to offer my service to a few interested students here’ and I’m sure that would open up the doors for them.”
That is the most basic thought I have behind this Student-Teacher Mentorship Program. I’m not necessarily thinking that they will get a music degree like me, or that they will teach piano for a living. I simply know that after all those years of dedicating themselves to piano lessons, the piano can give back to them more than just joy and beauty of making music.
PRIVATE PIANO STUDENT-TEACHERS
The qualities that I look for in potential student-teachers are first and foremost the passion for making music along with reliability. The combination of those two qualities is not common at all in young adults so as you can imagine, students that I consider candidates for student-teaching are really special students. At the time I’m writing this, we have one active private piano student-teacher and a second young man starting his observations to also start accepting students in the Spring of 2015.
Group-teaching (or classes) require some completely different set of skills from one-on-one teaching. The qualities that I look for in potential group-teachers are natural leadership ability and a passion for people. Again, the combination of these two qualities is also rare and I consider our school very lucky to have found a dynamic sister duo that have been in training as Teacher-Assistants for the past 6 months already! I’m anxious and excited to form their first class to take over as official Student-Teachers because they are ready for a class, and I know the kids that will be part of their first class will really enjoy learning from them.
IMPARTING THE GIFT
Creating these teaching opportunities for a younger generation of teachers is one of the most exciting projects I’m having the privilege of starting. I am being given the opportunity to share the lessons and experience I’ve acquired over the past 14yrs of running an independent music studio. I find great joy and purpose in sharing with others what has been of value to my life!
I often write and say this to my student-families: I’m so grateful for the opportunity you give me to be a small part of your family through music lessons. I do not take that privilege lightly. If you are one of our Musical Living Academy teachers reading this, please know that I feel exactly the same way about you: I’m so grateful for the opportuniy you give me to be a small part of your life through sharing my experience with you. It’s a great privilege and will always strive to impart the best of what I’ve learned to you.