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Teaching music in the moment

Music lives in the moment

Each student enters the lesson studio with a piece of the puzzle. Some are interested in getting to know the big picture, and some are just trying to find out where the pieces fit. When I meet a new student, I do my best to give insight. I want to help them make musical connections. I want each student to say "aha" in every lesson. I want to bring them into the moment because music lives in the moment.

Listening is natural for a musician

Often, I encounter students who are distracted, or busy minded with all kinds of thoughts pouring from their heads. Sometimes 15 minutes goes by before the lesson starts because they need to talk...about all kinds of things. When finally, we pick up the guitar and start to play it seems the lesson is already over. I want my students to feel like they can trust me, and if they need to talk, I always listen. Listening is natural for a musician. But as a teacher, I also want my students to grow. If my students don't grow, then I look like a bad teacher.

Growth takes energy, effort and focus

Time slips away, especially when we are not in the moment. So many opportunities for success and growth are put on hold when we are not in the moment. Growth takes energy, effort and focus. Being a teacher means helping students to stay in the present moment. It’s important to encourage students to keep focus, and to look for opportunities to point out when they make some progress.

Staying in the moment is very difficult for a lot of students...and teachers. There are so many things competing for their attention, and often the distractions are overwhelming.

Sometimes I get tired, and even anxious when students struggle to complete a lesson that we have been working on for weeks. I'm inclined to accuse them of not being serious about music and of wasting my time. I feel like asking them why they are taking guitar lessons. Sometimes I wish they would quit.

But if they quit, I lose. Obviously, I lose business. And maybe not so obvious, I fail as a teacher. I lose the satisfaction of helping another to succeed. This could be a problem for me because if a potential new student asks me if I like my job, I had better be able to give a satisfying answer.

Teacher becomes student

Now and then it happens, just before I start to lose patience-that's when the student finally succeeds in completing the lesson. Both of us find ourselves in the moment, tired and maybe surprised at our success. Then I must reflect on what’s going on inside and ask why I sometimes lose patience. Teacher becomes student.

Truly, my students are a gift

I could laugh and say that my students are sent by god to test me. I could cry and say they are sent to torture me. I should say they are there to help me survive as a musician, because without them I would be working in a restaurant somewhere waiting tables while trying to get a paying gig. Truly, my students are a gift.

Students have all kinds of reasons for taking guitar lessons. I want them to learn to play the instrument. But playing the instrument is not just about the guitar. Playing the instrument is about getting to know one's self.

Stay in the moment

One thing is for sure, when I face my students, I face myself. Hopefully when they face me, they face themselves too. Learning to play guitar isn't easy. But it is rewarding. Teaching is rewarding as well. Both requires us to be in the moment. Sharing the moment with each other means that we must be patient and learn to believe in each other. If the teacher doesn't believe in the student, then the student will never believe in the teacher, and both will miss the moment. Sometimes you are the student, sometimes you are the teacher. Whichever you may be, stay in the moment because music lives in the moment.

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