Those were the words on the card given to me by one of my students, a graduating high school senior. This student was truly a joy to teach—straight A student, volunteer in her community, and a beautiful pianist who enjoyed arranging her own songs. I was sad to see her go, but excited for her as she looked toward the future and starting college in the fall.
I was struck by the words she wrote. She didn’t say, “thanks for teaching me how to play piano,” although I am sure the sentiment was there. What she said was so much more meaningful, and made me reflect on all the things I am to my students aside from being just their piano teacher.
- Confidant: I have spent many lessons listening patiently to what is happening in my students’ lives, the good and the bad. For some students, their piano lesson might be one of the only times all week they get thirty minutes of undivided attention from an adult. Getting to know these young people that I teach and watching them grow and accomplish life’s milestones is a privilege.
- Cheerleader: Learning an instrument is hard! Sometimes students also struggle with learning disabilities or attention disorders that make learning piano extra challenging. They need someone to encourage them and support them, and give them opportunities to succeed.
- Coach: The skills I teach in piano lessons are life skills. Time management, discipline, creativity, problem solving—these are all skills we use in each of our piano lessons. Twenty years from now, my students may not remember the repertoire they learned in their piano lessons, but I hope they will think back to these skills and apply them to whatever situations they may face.
Teachers: you are more than just a piano teacher. In fact, piano might be the least important thing you teach your students. You are giving them someone to look up to.
And, if you are like me, you will learn more from your students than they will ever know.