From the Music Teacher’s Bench

I’ve felt impressed this week to share a little bit of my “why” story. Not why we learn music theory, not why I think technique is important – but why getting up and coming to teach your children every day is not only worth it but one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever received.

I started playing the piano at age 7. My parents gave me a choice – I could either try soccer or piano. (And if we’re being honest, it was a really good thing I didn’t pick soccer.) I was one of those kids who loved to practice and cried of embarrassment when I hadn’t.

By high school, I had started taking from a teacher who was one of the best in the area, and for whom I didn’t practice nearly enough. When it came time to decide whether I would audition for college programs, I kind of thought, sure, I could enjoy doing that in college, and went for it. Not your typical music major, I know. (And I will readily confess that without the endless patience and encouragement of my teacher, I would never have gotten into a piano performance program, period.)

But then I got to BYU and some really amazing things happened. I was guided by what was unquestionably the Lord’s hand to some experiences that helped me to fall in love with music and teaching like I never had before. My first non-music calling in a student ward was as a Sunday School teacher, where I became enraptured with the process of studying, learning, preparing, and then sharing that learning with others. In the BYU music program, I was able to have spiritual experiences with both classical and sacred music (not mutually exclusive categories, mind you) that touched me in a way nothing else could. One of those subtly life-changing events happened when I had to teach a student for free for one of my practicum classes. By a series of events too long for this post, I was led to a student who had been a victim of a violent attack and whose family could no longer afford lessons, but who desperately needed the healing power of music in her life. And I saw her find that healing in learning to play the piano. It turned out my love of teaching music rivalled even my love of teaching the gospel.

Fast forward to last August, when a phone call that seemed coincidental at the time but has since proven decidedly otherwise led me to the Conservatory. I already knew I loved teaching and music. Perfect job, right? I had no idea that I would also become so deeply attached to these darling students I’ve had the blessing of interacting with over the last 11 months.

See, the best part of my day is actually NOT usually when a student finally plays a scale right or sightreads a rhythm perfectly or remembers to play B-flat when he’s in F Major. It’s seeing the pure joy spread across a student’s face when she knows she has accomplished something that her Heavenly Father is proud of. It’s laughing together when we’ve found a silly but effective way to get a tricky rhythm. It’s when I see my students at a baptism on a Saturday and they come hug me or when a student buys things at the music store for his sick brother, even though the sick one will get to shop the next week. Music brings out goodness and happiness and love in ways that few other things do and in ways that are hard to describe unless you see them. I have experienced that countless times in my own life. I’ve found purpose and comfort through music in some of the hardest times of my life, and the idea that I could help one other of our Heavenly Father’s children find that too is overwhelming and amazing and has become my mission for this time of my life. And it’s a greater blessing than I ever hoped to find in a “job.”

So to you parents, who undoubtedly already know what miracles your children are, thank you for sharing them with me for a few minutes every week. Even on their difficult days, I feel so privileged to get a glimpse of how our Father in Heaven feels about each of them. And to that Father in Heaven who has led me to this place and to these gifts, I will eternally be grateful.

With all my love,