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Saturday, March 10, 2007

The Darndest Things

A few gems from the lips of my quotable young piano and violin students:

Sarah: Now, what are you going to practice this week?
Annalise (age 7, piano student): Um, nothing?
Sarah: Unfortunately, that's probably the truth, but what am I HOPING you're going to practice?
Annalise: Um, piano?
Sarah: Right. I was looking for something a little more specific, sweetie.
(I usually recap a bit at the end of each lesson, reminding the student specific improvements I hope to see by the following week, etc. Sometimes it's like talking to a brick wall!)

Sarah (pointing to a slur written beneath two notes): Okay, can you remember what we call this?
Annalise: A...smile?

(Annalise has been featured in my blog once before for saying this.)

Anna is my nine-year-old 'Umm-er.' Flashcard drills go well for the most part, as she's quite a good little reader, but when we come to something that stumps her, she'll say, "Umm, um, uh, like, like, that's sorta, that's a, um, like, that's a..." before finally admitting with an impish grin, "like, I don't know."

At eleven years old, S. is my I-could-care-less student. I can't quote her, because I'm not sure she's ever spoken to me in a full sentence. She rushes through everything, making mistakes left and right and never bothering to fix them. It leaves me wondering if she can't hear the conspicuous absense of F sharps in her rendition of a piece that ought to be in D Major or if she just doesn't care. In any case, every lesson holds frequent reminders and exhortations to SLOW DOWN. "A little slower, S. You've got to make sure your brain can stay ahead of your fingers!" She looks at me blankly, as if to say, "Who are you, and are you sure you're cool enough to be sitting in my presence?" and begins again, altering the tempo not a bit. "Slower, S. Like this." I demonstrate the tempo I'd like her to take. Without listening, she begins again, possibly faster than before. And I find myself wondering how to explain that when I say SLOWER I mean SLOW DOWN THE SPEED AT WHICH YOU ARE MUTILATING THIS PIECE.

Anthony may be my most quotable student...

Sarah: Okay, let's try that part one more time... oh, fix those notes. Okay, one more time... etc.
Anthony (age 7, piano student): Augh, why me?!
Sarah: No, why ME?!
(I realized instantly that I shouldn't have let that one slip! But he laughed, and his mother did too, so all's well that ends well I suppose.)

Later in the lesson, I was introducing the concept of ties, comparing them to an addition symbol. Anthony suddenly burst out with a grin, "Yay, I'm learning!" An instant later he caught himself, altered his goofy grin into a bored expression, and intoned, "I mean, boo, I'm learning. Too much learning. Why must this happen to me?"

At another lesson, I sang a little passage from a song he was working on. He pointed to the accompanying notes in the bass clef and asked, "Why didn't you sing these notes, too?" I replied, "Because I can't sing two notes at a time!" "Why not?" "No one can. Try it." He attempted it and then concurred: "It's impossible. Except for God. He can do ANYTHING."

On Thursdays I teach group violin lessons to 4th-graders in an after-school program in a nearby school district. One week David, usually one of my happiest, most cheerful students, announced that he couldn't play without making mistakes and didn't want to try. I was busy assuring him that no one in the room was perfect when I noticed Lexie and Isabel whispering. I glanced over at them, and they looked up at me guiltily. "We were just saying," Lexie ventured, "that we think you're perfect. At the violin, I mean. We also think you've got really nice teeth."

Finally, a cute conversation with Rachel, a violin student from the group lessons who stays after for a private lesson of her own.

Rachel: Have you ever done something that you thought you wouldn't like at all, and then found out you loved it?
Sarah: Well, yes, actually.
Rachel: What was it?
Sarah: As a matter of fact, it was teaching here. I was nervous about teaching several kids at once, and thought it wouldn't be my cup of tea at all. I accepted the position with trepidation. But you know what? Now, I think Thursdays are my favorite day of the week. Why do you ask? Have you ever found yourself liking something you thought you wouldn't?
Rachel: Nope. Just wondering about you. But I'm glad you like teaching us. We like you, too.
Now I wonder where that question came from.

5 comments:

  1. Great post. I enjoyed that. :)

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  2. Don't you just love your students! If only I had the time to write out all the fun (and sincere) things they say during class...unfortunately I have to spend my time composing daily journals recording every waking moment of my student teaching :)

    I do love those stories though! Thanks for sharing.

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  3. Thanks for the stories, I enjoyed the glimpse into the life of a music teacher. :-) And was Anthony serious about the learning is bad attitude? Yikes!

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  4. melissa12:27 AM

    Sarah, you're such an awesome teacher. :) Thanks for sharing such cute stories!!

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  5. Oh Sarah, what great stories! More, more, more! I mean, more PLEASE. :)

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