Wednesday, February 20, 2013

An Ode to Teaghan

I recently made the decision to stop driving to a nearby town once a week to teach private lessons at the high school there.  Instead, I'm focusing exclusively on my home studio.  I have plenty of students here and, with Nell in the picture now, I no longer needed the stress and headache of teaching outside of the home in exchange for the few additional dollars it provided.

Three of my students from that town are continuing lessons with me here at my home.  Four of them will be studying with a different teacher now.

One of them in particular I am going to miss.  This post is about her.

Teaghan is bright and capable, confident, a tomboy with tangled brown hair and no interest in cute or matching clothes whatsoever.  She's a bookworm.  She once came to a lesson with a black eye, and when I exclaimed, "what happened?" she replied, "I walked into a signpost."  I couldn't help laughing as I said, "I bet you were reading a book while you walked!"  Yes, she had been.

Teaghan's relationship with the violin had its shares of ups and downs over the three years, give or take, that she took lessons with me.  

{This was from a lesson a year ago.  Note the scrawl at the top of the page: 'I'm really mad at my bow!!!'}

She started the violin around the age of seven, as I recall, and is now a fourth grader.

This past fall, her school teacher issued a challenge: to do one thing, an activity of the student's choice, every day for thirty consecutive days.  Teaghan decided to practice her violin each day for those days, without missing a day.  And she did it, too - despite the setback of missing a day when she was nearing the end of her goal, and having to start again from the beginning.

She met her goal, and then she just kept going.  At her last lesson with me, she was on her 131st day of consecutive practice.  One hundred and thirty one.

Can you believe that?

In addition to her Suzuki pieces, she had a book of music from films that she was working on.  She particularly liked some of the music from Harry Potter.  At one recent lesson, as I was writing in a few fingerings and bowings for her, I mentioned in passing, "Someday if you come back to this piece, you could play this passage in third position..."

At her next lesson, she had taught herself how to play that section in third position - just from hearing me mention it and watching me do it.  This from a girl who has not yet actually learned third position.

Teaghan is a pretty special person.

At her last lesson, I told her how much I had enjoyed being a part of her journey with the violin.  How I knew she'd like her new teacher very much.  How proud I was of her.  I gave her a hug, and my heart was full.  She was crying.

And there was this:

These are the moments.  All the students, all the lessons, the squeaky notes, the broken strings, the conspicuously empty practice charts, the hurried passages, and the inaccurate intonation... it all feels so very worthwhile in moments like these, with students who practice, who engage, who connect.

So here's to you, Teaghan.  Here's to hundreds more days to come, to third position and beyond, to the enjoyment of Beethoven and Harry Potter and Bach.  I wish you a lifetime of loving music.

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