Friday, March 21, 2008

Free Again

I feel like a dark cloud was lifted from over my head after I followed the suggestions of Richard, Kelly, and a couple of my neighbors. I’m taking another break from piano lessons because they were making me more anxious than happy.

The big question I had yesterday when I decided to quit was what to say to my teacher (of one month). I could have very easily blamed it all on the 45-minute commute, which meant a whole morning each week was shot by the time I drove all the way to upper northwest DC, had my lesson, and drove home. My husband (the guy who in his youth had his mother call in sick for him every other lesson) offered to call up my teacher and tell her I was going to be sick for a long time. But I felt I really owed her the whole truth.

As I was cooking dinner last night, she returned my call. We had a very frank and open conversation, where she still used many of the metaphors that filled her lessons. She said she had been trying to do the equivalent of teaching me to drive on the other side of the road, which requires a complete rethinking of driving. I replied that perhaps I really didn’t really want to learn to drive on the other side of the road. I just wanted to get pleasure out of playing, even if I never held my hands completely properly or played every note correctly.

It’s always nice to leave a difficult situation on good terms and terms that don’t necessarily close the door to the future. We agreed to e-mail as I continue to follow up on piano glasses that have never been quite right. We will stay in touch.

But I was visibly relieved to be my own piano “boss” once again. I can branch out from Beethoven’s Pathetique sonata to some jazz and fun stuff that’s been on the shelf for the past month.

This experience makes me wonder what sort of teacher would be best for me. I don’t doubt the benefits from working with the right person. But whoever it is, it will have to be someone who builds my confidence and nurtures my lifelong love of music.


Blogger Kristin said...

I'm not even sure that driving on the other side of the road is all that hard. It's more like she was trying to teach you to drive stick on the other side of the road when you've only driven automatic.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I glad you have found some peace to this.

Happy Purim! (Although I think I am a day late)

11:03 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kristin -- Yes, stick on the other side of the road is a better analogy. I'm already thinking of the litany of things I had to remember when I learned to drive stick-shift. Clutch in...

Richard -- Thanks for your help in the process. You are so wise! I'm also amazed at how well you keep up with my holidays. We actually forgot to go to the Purim service this year. But Purim is a rather minor holiday in the scheme of things. I still always enjoy the story of Esther.

5:03 PM  
Blogger mouse (aka kimy) said...

I have to laugh as kirstin's comment on driving on the other side of the road perhaps not being that hard - I don't know if my comment and reaction relates to your piano lessons or not but here are my experiences:

many years ago (perhaps 15) I became good friends with a japanese woman whose husband was a visiting scholar at the university where I was. my new girlfriend really wanted to get her driver's license so she could be independent - it's hard to get around some places if you don't drive, especially if you have a child and live in suburbia! she was an experienced driver (but, in japan she drove on the other side) I volunteered to go out with her to 'teach' her (really be with her) while she mastered the switch (and the car they bought an automatic transmission)....we lived in connecticut, the roads were often narrow and windy - going out on these expeditions sometimes terrifying as many more times than a few I would find that we were not on the correct side of the road. but in time, several weeks!, my girlfriend did alright - I cleared her and she passed her test. but it took weeks.

the other driving on the other side story. seven years ago we went to ireland. after a few days in dublin we decided we wanted to do a motor trip and explore the irish countryside so we rented a car. I knew I would probably be like my japanese girlfriend and that it would take me a while to master the skill - so I didn't even try - as I would have had to both be comfortable with switching gears with the other hand and driving on the other side. my f was confident that he could make the switch. e and I had faith in his confidence. he did well with both the stick and the side of the road, however, there were a couple times where I thought I was going to die on a narrow windy road but it wasn't because f was a slow learner (quite the contrary) it was more because of my own hardwiring.... only restriction was that we did agree that there would be no tipping of pints until we were settled for the day -

so I don't know what these two tales are worth - but your piano lesson and the driving analogy brought them to mind!

9:15 PM  
Blogger Colette Amelia said...

Yesterday I wrote a letter of support for a friend who is applying for a job coach for mature employment seekers. This is what I said about her: "Her advice was very positive and encouraging, which for me was extremely important, as job seeking is the scariest and most stressful thing I have ever had to face."

Funny how we "big" people still need to have encouragement to instill confidence in us just like the little people.

Slaying dragons, learning the Piano, and applying for jobs is not easy for anybody.

And at our time in life we are supposed to be smart enough to know what we need to do to make the life as pleasant as possible. So play that Jazz!

12:47 PM  

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