Thursday, May 18, 2017


i started teaching music this year.
It all started with a desire last year to build something i had been kind of dreaming of for years and years: a musicianship course for adults that opened up the doors to music that often seem closed after a certain age. My desire was to teach a little functional music - some chording, basic harmonies, a little theory and ear training... an eclectic offering, using video clips, group participation, song writing... I wanted to teach a general appreciation for music; something that would gently open doors and invite in - without intimidating or overwhelming. i worked for months, pulling out stuff i had saved on shelves for years, decades even. i scrawled out outlines for lessons and took myself out for coffee dates to organize them into bite sized pieces. i picked what i had found to be the most useful pieces, and i tried to translate some of my experience into lessons that might be useful to someone who hadn't lived them... i photocopied and created and watched videos and dreamed. I phoned music teachers that i knew and i asked them questions. I inserted their suggestions into the curriculum and re-wrote, knowing that I would probably need to keep tweaking it forever, but hoping to build something that I could be proud of. I typed out each one of the weekly lessons and organized handouts that i hoped would help clarify what i taught, and empower people to *do*... And finally, i was kind of... done.
"What do i do now?" i wondered as i looked at my tidy file folders holding my precious curriculum.
This was a much harder, much more uncomfortable part.
i wrote posts on Facebook trying to explain what i had made.
i offered my little course out to the universe...
And a few sweet souls accepted the invitation.
i had hoped for between 6-8 students - i felt like that number would be perfect for the group activities, without intimidating. i wanted it to be intimate. We ended up with 5.
i had anxiety each of the six nights that i taught the course.
The week i finished teaching it, i had already decided to teach it again.
Armed with ideas to make it better, i attacked my notes and handouts. i fixed, i clarified, i added and deleted.
i made another offering out to the universe.
Two. Only two replied. But then i started getting phone calls from people who wanted to take some private lessons. They weren't interested in taking the course, but wanted to know if i'd teach a little voice or a little piano.
I decided to go ahead with my two students in my course. i still had anxiety, but it was less - and i felt like i improved - i knew some things that were going to work, and some things that weren't... i was also surprised by some things that were harder or easier the second time. The dynamics were totally changed with a new group. I realized that it would never be boring because *people* make it a new and unique experience every single time.
i found myself growing, learning and gaining understanding through my private lessons. People came so differently and uniquely gifted... i transcribed chord progressions from video games, listened to country music, created set lists that would facilitate learning musical transitions or appropriate chording patterns. Some of my students had more classical training than i did... but i never felt like i came to them empty handed, and some of them were so gifted in encouragement - that i felt empowered as a teacher and my confidence grew.
i decided to offer my course again and this time, i would aim to offer it to children. i posted on homeschool boards on Facebook and fished for interest... but i knew i couldn't offer my course to children without tweaking the content. Week by week, i rewrote my material - substituting exercises for ones that i thought would appeal to children. Mollen - my constant cheerleader - told me i needed to create a student handbook and so did. i bought colourful duotangs and filled them with the handouts i thought we could get through in six weeks.
It was hard... but teaching the course was hard too. We ended up with eight. Finally a full class!
i fumbled and stumbled... i'd lose them and their attention often...
But they were bright and creative... They were kind and capable... They were curious and willing...
And i loved it again.
And now that the school year is wrapping up, i'm finding that much of my teaching will wrap up for the summer too. i'll keep a few stragglers and i do have hope that i'll be able to pick up steam again in the fall.
i'm growing again.
And growth is hard and kind of fun - but also maybe a little melancholy and sad too (i have time for this because my little ones are growing, and needing less of me... and literally needing to *please have less mom*... not just needing me less... and that's hard and weird and uncomfortable and sad and probably healthy and right too... but i can't see those things through my tears...)
So, in this season too, the Holy Spirit will use music to minister... to coax new growth, to keep me from stagnancy or limitations.
"You wanna see healing and growth in your life, my paige? Then, let's see you give..."
And so i offer.
And He multiplies.
And i grow.

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