Memoirs of a Passionate But Exhausted Music Teacher

Coming from a decade of experience in the teaching universe, my horse tends to get higher and higher; and not fun high, but just regular ol’ “I’m-sick-of-people-not-understanding-this” high.

Let’s just reflect for a moment upon how wonderful, useful, and downright cool it is to take music lessons, or even feel the need to learn music at all. We’re talking about something so useful, that some of the greatest lessons in life can be understood from learning a musical instrument: Patience, coping skills, communication, quick thinking, creativity, problem solving, determination, time management, and even the skill to open your heart to new things. I could go on for days, but this isn’t what we’re here for. My problem lies within parents’ minds. Speaking strictly about parents who have children enrolled in music lessons of course, because guess what, most adults taking music lessons (and older children for that fact) tend to be people who take responsibility for themselves quite well. What really just boils my blood and completely nullifies my existence as a passionate music teacher, is uncooperative parents: You know, the ones who, while you’re trying to explain to them what you did in a miniscule room ALONE with their child for a considerable amount of time, will cut you off, look in another direction, and worst of all, blame their own child by saying something absolutely infuriating along the lines of “Did you hear her? You have to do what she says!” Yes, they heard me. They heard me for the length of the whole lesson, and they gave me the conviction that they can handle what we’re doing. Otherwise, I would not have given out what I did (Do we see how belittled that would make a teacher feel?).

I am not running around delegating ‘homework’ to people to make their lives miserable or because they HAVE to learn how to play “Für Elise,” I am giving out work that I know for sure, my student can thrive while doing. The child most likely already performed this task with my careful direction, and only needs some practice to cement their progress. Without this, the progress will likely be lost and effectively make your child feel guilty through almost no fault of their own.  For your pleasant information, this requires ten minutes a day, and if you’re extra busy, we can settle on five. FIVE MINUTES. I bet you stare at social media arbitrarily for way more than five minutes a day. Don’t test me on this one. MOST of these children in question, can listen and comprehend reality much better than their parents can, and it is a heartbreaking shame to say that this is a deliberate act involving running away from responsibility on the part of a full grown adult, who should’ve probably realized what it takes to raise a kid properly, before they even had one.

As someone who grew up in a home where adults usually ran away from their responsibilities as parents, I cannot realistically communicate how absolutely insulting it is, to my profession, to the lifetime of work and practice, and to every other teacher around me, to be dismissed on this level. Chances are your kid told me things they would’ve never told you, because they don’t trust you enough to share their inner selves around you. Why?  Because every time there is an adult who praises them for their hard work, you shut them down by ignoring that adult, who in the child’s eyes has enough credibility to convey truth to their parents. So end result is your kid, doing something great, being praised by a professional adult that validates the child’s effort on a deep level, and you totally stealing that from them by taking what their teacher says for granted. If you don’t think kids notice this even on a subconscious level, I really –truly, feel sorry for you.

This constant fear of our own children surpassing us, especially at something so fulfilling as music, is something even Mr. Bonehead homo-erectus mastered. Has there been some crazy decline in human intelligence? I wouldn’t put it past the humanity I’m seeing today. More and more parents stick by this “I know better than anyone else about my kid” attitude, which involves completely ignoring the emotional development of your child. You’re blocking them out. You’re projecting your own silly little issues onto them, and creating clones of your emotionally and cerebrally stunted self. Why would you want that? Probably because you’re afraid, lazy, and selfish.

My advice? Don’t waste your (or your kid’s) time or money if you are going to treat extra-curricular teachers like they don’t know shit. Yeah I might be fifteen years younger than you, but it’s not my problem you can’t treat people right. That is YOUR problem and you can leave it at the door, because my classroom is a place of trust, happiness, and learning through meaningful relationships, experiences, and conversations. There is absolutely no space for your giant ego. As they say, “The ego, is not your amigo.”

My even-better advice? Learn to open yourself up to becoming a caring parent that listens to not only their child’s words, but listen to their hearts. They are always calling out to you. Nobody can steal that spot from you, not even me. Children thrive and grow in every direction possible when they know people are listening to them, and this includes acknowledging other adults telling you that you’ve got to put the work in too. Your relationship works two ways, and your way isn’t void just because you created the other person who happens to be tiny with a wonky vocabulary.

It takes a few seconds to listen to what someone has to say, attentively. It takes much more to be a conscientious adult, who really cares about every aspect of their child’s life. Listen to their teachers, make the necessary effort to carry out the tough lessons we teach while were not around. It’s more important than anything else, believe me. We’re the teachers, but YOU’RE the parents.

Written by Talia Plante
*Edited by Dominic Abate

About Talia Plante 50 Articles
A classically trained pianist from the Laval suburbs, Talia sees no other clear path in life other than her passion for music. An experienced music teacher and social bird, she seizes any opportunity to be with others. Being an avid psychonaut and lover of emotional connection, she can often be found at parties of any variety, likely rubbing her face on cats she’s allergic to, or somehow slipping into conversation that black metal and baroque music are really just close cousins. Her lifetime favourites include Black Sabbath and Liszt, and anything even remotely psychedelic, doom, or stoner-like. Her current dreams are to become the modern day Mary Poppins (umbrella and children’s laughter included), buy a van to drive across any drive-able land, and spread sunshine wherever she goes. If spotted in the wild, the best way to make her smile is to ask her anything…or offer some cheese.

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