How “Does not apply herself” became a teacher

I began teaching piano because I needed money. I didn’t have a passion; I had a skill. It was a skill that I knew was marketable and I capitalized on it – because I’m resourceful and an American.

I moved to the town where I currently live in the late winter of 2001. I got a job – of all things – teaching kindergarten. Btw – you apparently don’t need a 4 year degree in education, you don’t need more than three days of student teaching and you don’t need a 12” binder with sample bulletin-board lay-outs that you turned in for a senior project. It seems that being a warm body on the day the school’s previous teacher packs up and ships out – unannounced – is enough. Viola! You’re a teacher…*

I should make mention here that I don’t know what sort of thing I was trying to pull on fate and the universe because I was destined teach something. (See family tree of educators below.) (Op. You know what? Don’t. I didn’t have the stamina for it. Point is, the numbers were stacked against me and generations deep.)

Right, so. The first reason I began teaching piano and, shortly after, voice, was because of money (Which might accurately alert you to the desperation of my situation because NO ONE goes into teaching for the money.  …They do it for the clothing allowance.) Secondly, it was cultured into me. Turns out it was in my DNA too, and I fell in love with it.

I acquired my first students out of the pool of kids at the school I was teaching at. One of them was in my first Kindergarten class and he is still with me at 15. He is cool and clever and I really enjoy the privilege of still teaching him piano. I have appreciated his parent’s partnership and investment AND – oh! for real! – willingness to stick with me in the first few years I was a real organizational mess, literally figuring it all out as I went. Definitely had quitters – and for good reason. I was talented and I could teach, but I could not set myself up for success over long periods of time. It took time to sort out my structure & system (eventual post). But, N- and I have been on a decade-long journey with each other, and he is just one of the young people I adore getting to be in the life of.

At the beginning of this all it was, frankly, quite shocking that I became a teacher of ANY sort because of my history as a student. (Then again, too, I hated attending camp but adored my 10+ years of being a counselor.) I was always sharp and smart – I was not invested. Rather… I did not “apply” myself. (Oh, also, my handwriting always “needed improvement”. Full disclosure seems appropriate.) Anyway, the truth is, I had no vision. I didn’t understand the bigger picture and, for me, this was the key. I was a young creative kid – there’s all sorts of mess wrapped up in that – but one of the main ones is needing to see the bigger picture and where they fit into it. With that all in mind, I ESPECIALLY love being a teacher to “those” kids.

I have now been teaching privately just about every week of my life since the summer of 2001. I began small with a handful of students and moved to having a studio of about 45 students a week at one point. They have been everywhere from 3 yrs old to somewhere in their 50’s with everything in between. And though there have been a few weeks here and there that I wish I could’ve skipped, I have really, REALLY loved what I get to be in this life.

I started a blog to talk about this journey, talk about educating young creative people (and maybe teaching the non-Creatives to think outside of their tidy boxes), throw around ways to be better at it, help keep the arts, as a whole, in our lives regularly and… probably more stuff along those (wavy) lines.

*****

*… in a small private school, making the living wage of a 14 year old in a small foreign country in the South Pacific.

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