I made my professional teaching debut yesterday, and I realized one very important thing: I will not be teaching piano or voice lessons out of my home for the rest of my life. I knew this beforehand, but I actually came to the realization that I would go crazy if that happened.
I went and was a substitute teacher at the Walnut Grove School of Music out in Langley. It’s a 2 1/2 hour commute EACH WAY. I didn’t get home until after 11:00 last night, and worried the heck out of Heather and my Mom, who was waiting for me to call her. I didn’t realize it would take so long. But I had to catch a bus to the SkyTrain, then get on the SkyTrain, hop off way out in Surrey and then take a 1/2 hour bus ride to get to Langley. The bus connections in the evening are not so good. I had to wait a good 45 minutes for a bus after I was done teaching.
I mostly taught piano yesterday – beginner piano. Oh how little kids can pound those keys. And how they can’t count. I did so much pencil-banging because of the lack of a metronome and so much clapping out of rhythms. But the kids were cute. And I think they liked me. One of the parents sat in on her daughter’s lesson and told me afterwards, “She really liked you. You have a way with her that she really responds to.” I highly doubt that. I think I was just lucky to have great kids. I even had to teach a choir of 5 year olds, one of which told me I had as good of a singing voice as their teacher and that I even looked like her. Score two for me! Luckily only 3 of them showed up, and the choir of 8 year olds didn’t show up at all. I played instrument recognition games, and singing games with the 5 year olds, and then we sang some of their songs including the great hit, “I Wish I Were A Fish”. Why do I wish I was a fish? “I wouldn’t have to eat my vegetables, I wouldn’t have to go to bed, I wouldn’t have to do my homework. I wouldn’t have to do the things I HATE!” (directly quote from the song) And then the kids proceeded to yell out the things they hate. Mushrooms was the overwhemingly popular answer.
But I also came to the conclusion yesterday that I have no idea how to teach someone to sing. I don’t know how to explain things in simple enough terms. I know how I do it, but I can’t tell someone with a breathy voice how to round out the tone. And I also realized that I can’t teach someone to sing, “How Do I Live” by Trisha Yearwood. One of the girls brought in a book of pop music and that’s what she sang for the 30 minutes. How do you teach someone who clearly wants to be the next Kelly Clarkson? I just don’t know…
It was a great experience for me and I actually enjoyed it more than I thought I would. By the end of it I didn’t want to hear one more C major scale, but I think that’s normal. But when I got home Heather told me that I could have taken her car out to Langley, since she wasn’t using it. And that, my friends, would have saved me 1 1/2 hours – each way.