Music Teacher's Helper Blog

Reflections of a Music Teacher

Dear MTH blog readers,

I hope you are all having a fantastic holiday!

I realize it has been a while since I last posted. My 2-year-old daughter certainly keeps me very busy. She is very active, and enjoys exploring everything around her, including sitting at the piano and just having fun with the instrument. You can see her “progress” by visiting her Facebook page JingJingAria.

2017 has been an unforgettable year for me. I was actually pregnant again, but lost the baby at 6 months gestation. It was a very difficult time. I am sharing with you all here, because I know these things are rarely talked about, and there may be some of you out there that have experienced similar losses. It is easy to celebrate joy together, as I shared with you the birth of my first child. We all deal with grief differently, and for me, finally being able to talk about it brings a certain sense of peace.

Around the time I found out the baby had complications, I started teaching a new student who is blind and autistic. I will write more about him in a future post. He opened my eyes and heart. I had the option of terminating the pregnancy very early on, but teaching this new student was so inspiring that I knew as long as the baby had a heartbeat and even a 1% chance of making it, termination was not an option for me. In the end the baby did not make it, but I am grateful for the time I had with her and for all the lessons she taught me.

Every child that walks into my studio is a miracle. If they can learn to play the piano, that is a wonderful thing! What is our job as teachers? I still need to remind myself to be ever more patient, more encouraging, more inspiring, and more loving. It is difficult to do sometimes, when the student did not practice, when they have an upcoming exam and their piece is not memorized, when they do not remember how to do Secondary Dominants after you have explained it 100 times, and when you know they simply have not lived up to their potential. But in the end, what does it matter? The child is breathing. The child is happy. The child is going to have a meaningful life. What is our role? What will they remember from us 5 years, 10 years, 20 years, or 30 years from now?

Of course our job is also to inspire excellence. To cultivate the idea that hard work will be rewarded. To challenge and help our students to accomplish new tasks. To help to raise good citizens that can discover and appreciate beauty. To teach the art of playing the piano or whatever is your chosen instrument. As 2017 draws to a close, I ask myself the question, if I have been the right balance of praise and criticism for each student.

Thank you for reading this post, and letting me share with you some of my thoughts and reflections. I hope you are enjoying your holiday break, and giving some time to yourself to do whatever it is you have been wanting to do but never had the time.

Happy New Year!

About the Author

Yiyi Ku
Yiyi Ku is a pianist and teacher. Born in Taiwan, she grew up in New Zealand and obtained her Master of Music degree with Distinction in Composition and Piano Performance from the University of Canterbury. Yiyi also holds a Licentiate in Piano Performance from the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. She is a Nationally Certified Teacher of Music in Piano from Music Teachers National As... [Read more]

4 Comments

  1. Joyce

    A lot of differently abled students seem to find their way to me. They teach me a lot, which helps me to be a better teacher for “normal” kids. I’m glad that this student found you, especially at a time when you needed to find him. And I feel confident that you have always struck a good balance between criticism and praise. Your honest emotions in this post are breathtaking and heartfelt, and I’m very sorry for your loss.

  2. Robin Steinweg

    My heart aches for your loss.

    Your article affirmed a decision I’d made a week ago, to keep a six-year-old student whose parents don’t have him practice. Naturally, he doesn’t progress or enjoy not progressing. Instead of letting him go, I’m going to do everything I can this semester to give him something of music that he can love and hold on to for his life. And to make him feel he personally is worth the effort.

    Thank you for your transparency, and I pray comfort for you.

  3. Music School of Delhi

    It’s truly different and amazing experience when we taught to a special abled child. They taught us how to live life. It was nice to know your experience. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Any Guitar Chords

    To teach different able students, you are so right first you need to be patient and understand them. So that they can be comfortable with us. They are so amazing that they cooperate with us very easily.

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