I adore my little 6 year old piano student who comes at 4:30 on Wednesdays … but I got almost no sleep last night. I wasn’t quite myself, but had her lesson planned to the minute today – she’s away next week and we have a recital to prepare for that is approaching rapidly. We had lots to accomplish. I had a plan.
So did she.
“I would like to change the words to this song.” She announced this as she dumped her books on the floor and left one of them open to the piece we started last week. She loves adding words and changing words to her pieces. Usually I’m a very willing participant. But it takes forever because she insists that they all rhyme (and while you all know I’m quite the poet! LOL)… I just wasn’t feeling it today. We had things that had to get done.
“I want to do the duet with you.” We had just started reviewing what we had started last week… she couldn’t quite play it well on her own, let alone with me.
I re-directed her back to what we were doing. But she’s a wily one. “I sure like playing duets.” I smiled and re-directed her once again. “I just love this.” She ran her finger along the teacher duet part on her piece. I ignored this one. She gave up for a moment and played through her part agreeably. And then… “It just sounds.. I don’t know.. lonely.”
She’s just too cute.
And this innocent comment woke me up in more than one way. Yes, it shook away the sleep-deprived gloom I was feeling, but it also was a fabulous reminder that these piano lessons were for her… not for me. My goals for her were my goals; not hers. It was me who wanted her to be well prepared for the recital… in her mind it’s an event that is weeks away. She just wanted to play duets.
So we did. We changed the words to her piece to be all about an abominable snowman with hiccups. We played the duet. We even played the duet on my digital piano so she could change it to the Marimba sound she loves so much. We had a fabulous lesson.
And as she left I realized that we had actually accomplished a ton. Her piece was much more fluid than it had been… In fact, it was basically memorized since she loved her new lyrics so much.
It was a great reminder for me. Sometimes it’s important to listen to the cues your little clients are giving you; their piano lesson needs are often best served if we are willing to adapt to what they are subtly (or not so subtly) telling us.