I was thinking a lot this past week about why I chose to teach piano for the rest of my life. Since my family is preparing to move to Idaho soon, I've been trying to figure out how I'd like to set up my studio in Idaho Falls, including how much I want to charge. To be completely frank, I started to become a little bit obsessed with the money factor: trying to figure out what new accomplishments I could acheive that would allow me to charge more, or what additional teaching certificates I could earn so that I could charge more, etc. Don't get me wrong - becoming the best, most qualified teacher you can be is a noble goal for all of us, and we should charge what we're worth! But I think if I earn those credentials just so that I can charge more money...then I think I'm doing it for the wrong reasons. And that's what came to me on Sunday. I asked myself Why do I want to teach? Is it to earn as much money as possible? No. Where's the fulfilment in that? The purpose of music is to uplift others, and the purpose of teaching is to help others discover and nurture that gift within themselves - to help them create those uplifting moments for themselves. As cliche as that may sound, to me, that's the whole purpose of music and music education.
I thought about how truly blessed we are, as pianists and piano teachers, to have this gift that so many others wish they themselves had - and that, having been so greatly blessed, it's our duty to pass that gift on to those around us. We are so lucky to be in a profession that doesn't require us to ever "retire" - we can teach while we're still in our 80's, and we'll still be needed by others! We'll be able to contribute meaningfully to society all the days of our lives - what a blessing!
I love that we, as teachers, will never know the extent of our influence on future generations - like Jenny said, we don't realize how much our students look up to us. We are an example to them - and not just musically. I think that's the biggest reason why I love to teach piano - because I'm helping others. I'm helping them develop greater self-esteem while also helping them develop a whole new aspect of themselves. When I think of my piano teacher back home, my heart fills with love and gratitude for all that she taught me - not just notes and theory and technique, but she helped me get through my challenging teenage years, and she shaped the rest of my life. If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have pursued my bachelor's and master's degrees in piano and I wouldn't be teaching piano myself. And that's what I want to give to all of my students, in return. I whole-heartedly believe that teaching music is the most rewarding of all careers - not just for the students, but for the teacher as well! So here's to teaching!
Labels: Janina Herbert, The Joy of Teaching