If you’re not feeling quite yourself today you aren’t alone. Today is statistically the most depressing day of the year (actually, there’s some disagreement about the actual date but that’s another post for another blog). Why is today the most depressing day of the year? According to a very “scientific formula” that takes account of weather conditions, debt, distance from Christmas… and just the fact that it’s Monday, this day in January is the one where you’ll feel the most… blah.
Are you letting little studio annoyances contribute to your Blue Monday? We’re hoping this blog post can provide a different perspective to help you turn your Blue Monday into Motivation Monday.
I haven’t ever shared this story as it’s quite a personal one. But I’m reminded of it every time I hear a piano teacher refuse to take on a student because they only have a digital piano, or get frustrated and consider dropping a child who makes slow progress, or throw their hands up in frustration when a soccer game disrupts practice… or just generally get bogged down in the annoyances associated with our job. People can annoy us. People don’t always do what we want them to do. Blue Monday or not, it’s really easy to commiserate on any day.
But because of this story that I’m about to share with you, I personally never lose sight of what it means to be a piano teacher. And so those little annoyances in my job-life stay just that… little.
I’m hoping it affects you in a similar way.
What it Means to be a Piano Teacher
Aiden (name changed) was my very first piano student. He was sweet, very shy, and he tried really hard but his two outgoing sisters quickly breezed past him in his method book in a matter of months. I really had to flex my teaching muscles with Aiden; tried everything I could think of to make it click for him. He sort of practiced and he slowly progressed. He was not all that interested but he was too sweet to say so.
However, flash forward 8 years and Aiden was still my student. By then we had tossed his method books to the side and had found what made him tick: he was afire with a love for composing. We came up with great titles like “Chicago Cry” that were oh so cool. Other kids in the studio chose to play his pieces at recitals (to his blushing delight). He and I composed reams of really cool sounding pop and punk music. His reading skills were still shaky and his technique was not stellar. But he loved the piano.
Along the way, shy Aiden became confident. When he went off to a private high school he landed roles in their musicals playing the outlandish characters. Whenever I ran into his Mom she would comment on how much his piano lessons had affected him. How I had affected him.
I was in Copenhagen when I read the news on Facebook that Aiden had tragically passed away in a car crash just two weeks after his high school graduation. He had fallen asleep at the wheel. I was devastated. Being so far away, I didn’t have immediate contact with his family, but when I returned home those same words came from his tearful mom: what a large part I had played in his life, and how his piano lessons had made such an impact. When I visited his family nearly 3 years after his passing, his piece Chicago Cry was open on their piano.
Would it really have mattered if Aiden didn’t have an ideal acoustic piano at home? If he spent all of his lesson time composing instead of playing Bach? If he didn’t always practice – sometimes for weeks? If his parents placed equal importance on basketball?
Not now. What did matter was that joyful music-making was a large part of his too-short life. And because of this, I will be forever mindful of what it truly means to teach piano.
So, toss your Blue Monday blues to the side… because you are making a real difference in the lives of so many, and those little, niggly annoyances are a small price to pay for this opportunity we’ve been given.