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If Only They Would Practice #2

Sometimes the adults we teach just aren't able to find the time to practice... and THAT's OK! Their one-hour-a-week with us, is a musical oasis.

This story about one of my adult students taught me to back-off on insisting all my students practice at home. I still encourage it, but I now realize that there are other positive things happening :-)

I taught Ruth for years. She was keen and enthusiastic about playing the piano, but couldn't find practice time at home for a variety of good reasons. She worked full time and in addition, cared for an elderly parent. We enjoyed her lessons for what they were, a musical oasis from her busy life. Sometimes she was so tired at her lesson, she would play only the melody and I would play the chords. Then we would switch. We would go through finding 7th chords in all 12 keys or talk about ABA form, but generally she wasn't able to get a piece into her fingers in a way that she wanted to.

Ruth's Piano Chord lessons with Linda Gould
Ruth and Linda and a musical oasis

One day, her elderly parent passed on and shortly after that sad event she retired from her busy job. Now the time for practice presented itself and she grabbed it with joy. It was magic! Pieces that lay dormant became polished and sparkly. All of the musical ideas we discussed and played with in her lessons over the years were settled in her left brain ready for her right brain to start playing with them. She bought herself a brand new upright piano which cemented her commitment and eventually began inviting friends over for mini concerts. When her brother was convalescing in the hospital, she brought her keyboard up to his room and serenaded him.

If I had discouraged Ruth over the years she couldn't practice, her retirement may have been very different. I don't think it would have been as exciting and joyful and it certainly wouldn't have been as musical :-)

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