Sunday, May 17, 2009

How My Piano Teacher Improved Her Life

My embarrassing moment actually lasted nearly a year. It wasn't the sort of thing that caused heavy, temporary blushing. No, this was the sort of thing that caused long-term, avoid my mother at all cost and if caught try to change the subject kind of embarrassment. In a sentence, my piano teacher quit on me.

My parents wanted all their kids to have a musical background. My oldest brother, poor thing, got saddled with an accordion. The brother after him got an organ, with foot pedals, toggles, a split keyboard, and a very temperamental music instructor. My older sister got piano lessons. And shortly after I started first grade, so did I.

Don't get me wrong, I LOVE music. I write to it, drive to it, clean the house to it, you name it. The problem with learning any musical instrument is that it requires practice and there were so many other more interesting things to do: reading, writing, bicycling, reading, skating, reading, and reading. By the time I was in fifth grade, my piano teacher discovered, to her horror, that I had never learned to read music. I was just memorizing what she showed me and playing it back to her. When the music got a bit more complicated, well, oops. Busted.

The woman must have had the patience of several saints. She persevered with this incredibly lackluster student through what must have been literally years of sheer torture. By high school, I could play reasonably well (for a fourth year student), but there were still so many other more interesting things than practicing: reading, boys, writing, boys, martial arts, boys, writing, boys, reading, and boys. Did I mention boys? At any event, by twelfth grade, and the woman deserves some kind of medal, I sat down for my usual half hour lesson, muddled through what she asked, and then said "See you next week."

She took off her glasses, smiled at me and said, "No, I think this is it." Bless her heart, she never said "I am so out of here." No, she said very politely, "I think we've taken this as far as we can go." Leaving me the fun job of explaining to my mother why she no longer needed to budget for piano lessons.

No one else in the family had their teacher quit on them. No one I've ever TALKED to had their piano teacher quit on them, so I guess that's kind of a unique attribute I have. Although earning that attribute meant ducking my mother for quite some time.


Martin Bartloff said...

My most embarrassing moment, I feel is yet to come - I got a funny feeling you're might be standing next to me when it happens.

Oh, I did guitar lessons for a while, did pretty good but didn't learn the keys.

See on the 5th, maybe I'll bring my guitar and we'll do the musical "Torn from Normal" :-)


Norm Cowie said...

So when you were done reading and done with the boys ... did you read the boys?

I have no idea what I meant by this.


Anonymous said...

What a saintly teacher. Are you sure you practiced as much as you should have??