Give Them What They Like

This doesn’t sound like very good advice—and it wouldn’t be if it was the norm—but for the summer, I really like to give my students something they will enjoy.  For the struggling beginner, it may be something easier so he can build confidence.  For the over-achiever, it may be something popular but difficult, for example, something by Yiruma or Jon Schmidt. Movie tunes or a book of Disney songs is a nice change for the summer instead of continuing to plow through the lesson book. Even folk tunes, nursery rhymes, hymns, contemporary sacred tunes, or a favorite composer can be a nice change. Faber has a ton of “extra” books which can be incorporated into the summer to give your students an extra boost.

Now, can we apply this thought to our lives? I think so. Again, if it were the norm to only do what we wanted or to give our children what they like, we would be lazy and have spoiled kids. When King David was on his deathbed, his oldest living son, Adonijah, proclaimed himself to be king even though David had already declared Solomon to be the next ruling monarch. Why? We find the answer in 1 Kings 24:8. And his father had not rebuked him at any time by saying, “Why have you done so?” He was also very good-looking. His mother had borne him after Absalom. Give them everything they want, and you will have trouble on your hands ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE TALENTED OR GOOD LOOKING! That may sound like profiling.  It is not—it is human nature! Good looks and talent can be a deterrent, especially in a society that places so much emphasis on both.

However, the other side of the coin is true as well: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy. Colossians 3: 21 says, Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. This is mainly talking about constant fault-finding, and, as a piano teacher, I sometimes feel that I fall into this category! You want them to get it right, but is there wiggle room for letting some things slip by? The answer is ‘yes’ but that will be another post later!

By giving the student a change of scenery, so to speak, you will have the opportunity to teach, but perhaps not in such the exacting manner which ‘good teaching’ requires. There are always lessons to be learned in every piece of music but giving them a little more leniency on a favorite piece of music can be a great relief to them and an opportunity to show your human side. 😊

As a family, we work hard together. Our children have grown to be responsible adults. We always feel welcome and, quite frankly, comfortable in their homes. They are clean and orderly, yet not to an extreme. Our grandchildren are allowed to play and make ‘messes,’ but then the toys are put away.  It’s a constant challenge, but they stick by the stuff. My husband often kept to the adage: work before pleasure. But I remember one particular time when he listed all that needed to be done and then announced that we were going to play first to make certain that we got to the play! Good parenting!

Summer is a great time to get a lot accomplished.  You may have parents who want to take the summer off from lessons.  That is understandable, but the fallout may not be worth it.  I will tell my parents that I’d rather keep the lessons going even on a more relaxed schedule than take the summers off. I’d had beginner students take the summer off and come back in the fall literally beginning again. Obviously, more advanced students who are heading into a musical career fall into a different category. And, I am not a full-time teacher who is teaching to pay the bills! As always, there are exceptions to every rule! Kudos to you, dear teacher, for sharing your talents and passing on the treasure of music! May the summer be profitable and many ways and enjoyable for you and your students!

A friend once asked the great composer Haydn why his church music was always so full of gladness.  He answered: “I cannot make it otherwise.  I write according to the thoughts I feel.  When I think upon my God, my heart is so full of joy that the notes dance and leap from my pen; and since God has given me a cheerful heart, it will be pardoned me that I serve Him with a cheerful spirit.”

-Van Dyke

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