Years ago, I had a student who always came to the lesson in a bit of a bad mood. I will admit that it put me off, and, over time, I started to quietly dread that student's arrival.
But, still, week after week, I made sure to use my brightest smile, to welcome the student, to be fully engaged during the lesson -- to treat the student like he mattered.
I vividly remember a conversation I had with him, a few months after he started. We were chatting briefly at the end of the lesson, and I was telling him how glad I was he had come. I said something along the lines of "I'm so glad I get to see you each week."
He, still with the surly attitude, mumbled "Well, you are the only one."
My radar caught that, and I leaned forward gently and said "What do you mean?"
He looked at me, and from the corner of his mouth muttered, "You're the only one who wants to see me."
My heart broke at that moment. Now, whether that was true or that was just grouchy 11 year old boy talking, either way, he saw me as the only person in his life who actually wanted to see him.
From that moment on, I decided I would actually, in fact, want to see him. I decided that I would look forward to my time with him and treat him like he was my favorite lesson.
This isn't a fairytale, and he didn't magically transform overnight under my patient and loving tutelage.
But, that boy knew I cared about him. That boy knew that there was at least one adult in his life who cared about who he was and how he was doing.
Researchers tell us that kids and teens need five (5) significant adults in their life to make them feel valued and important. You can be one of those five.
You are more than just the piano teacher. You get to see that student once a week for a concentrated 30 minutes. You get to speak life and encouragement into him or her.
Right now, think about that student that you struggle with the most. Come on, I know there is at least one.
OK, now that you are picturing that student, ask this, "How can I communicate to this student that he matters?"
That's your task, Piano Teacher Friend. More than inputting musical knowledge into their brains. More than inspiring a love for music.
Your task is to show your students that they matter.
You matter to them, now show them the same.
Trust me, you'll be glad you did.