I Can’t do it- When knowledge is not enough.

There are a lot of things I can do. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities and many gifts.

 I’ve been blessed with parents who sent me to music lessons for 16 years. I even got to teach piano to my own students during college and when I graduated. I enjoyed that ALOT!

But I just can’t teach my kids to play the piano.

I know that in reality I could do it.

But there are some serious hurdles in my emotional state as to my music history and acquistion and the struggles I faced over the years.

I hadn’t realized this until this week.

I started playing the piano when I was 6 years old. My first teacher that I remember was positive, dreamy and I was tested and told I had perfect pitch.

Lots of moves and at least 7 teachers later I was left with knowledge, discouragement and even trauma.

That may sound shocking, but not EVERY teacher is meant for teaching. Some expect too much, some too little and some are just not meant to teach.

One of my teachers expected me to memorize 10 short pieces for a music guild jury of some sort. I must have been about 12 years old at this point and even though I did memorize them all and I did know them when the moment came to play them for the jury I forgot EVERY SINGLE one of those 10 pieces.

I left the room that day humilated, and discouraged and it was then I knew I couldn’t do it. I could not preform by memory.

Since that day I have had several other teachers. But I have NEVER been able to successfully preform by memory and learning to play without music has become very difficult for me.

I am sensitive to a fault, I know that. I want to please people, way too much.  And somehow the emotions of dissapointing myself, my family and my teacher that day are just so deep that I can’t do it.

But how is that connected with teaching my kids to play?

Here in Latvia kids usually go to music school. They choose their instrument and go to private lessons as well as solfège lessons at the music school.

I had been waiting to find out how the acceptance into music school would occur this year since my oldest child is now nearly 6.

From what I had heard there is a high demand of those wanting to get it. I found out late last week that their would be an audtion for those wanting to get in to music school.

I was surprised. How can my 6 year old boy who has never had a music lesson in his life audition for a place in music school? The requirements seemed rather high for a child who has never had lessons.

  •  Sing a song without accompianment. 
  • Repeat a tune. 
  • Clap a rhythm as demonstrated.

All week long we prepared with my teaching my boy to sing all the words to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” We worked on singing note patterns that I played for him on the piano and rhythms. He seemed ready.

Then we went to his allotted time for the audition and they whisked him off without me, no parents allowed. That was a shock- they hadn’t mentioned that when we had had our consultation.

When he came out I asked him how it had gone and he said he didn’t sing his song. I was shocked, and disappointed. He said he had hesitated and since he wasn’t singing they asked him to do something else. It sounds like it was very rushed- a 5 minute frame is that way.

As we went home all the disapointments that I had faced concerning music over the years came sweeping over me and I felt again how often I had felt I wasn’t good enough, and didn’t measure up. I suddenly felt as if that was living on through me in my son and I loathed that idea.

I don’t want him to be burdened with the expectations and disappointment of not being good enough. Why do we always measure ourselves against someone elses standard?

But I soothed myself with the thought that even if he is not accepted into music school this year we could find him a private teacher. But my husband thinks I should and can teach him.

I told him I can’t. But he didn’t get it . . .

And that is when I realized all of this musical baggage and my history of music acquistion has become so heavy.

  • I don’t want my son to have to have 7 different teachers, each with their own method, and each one setting him back a bit. 

  • I don’t want him to have the confusion of me teaching him my American method with A, B, C and hen having to re-learn when he starts with a different teacher here using Do, Re, Mi. 

  • I don’t want him to have to somehow learn the bad attitudes I carry that learning by memory is difficult, and that playing is hard. 

I want him to have a fresh start, and make his own musical path, disconnected from my own.Though of course I will help him when he needs it.

Perhaps this has all come across as negative. But I want to say that my last 2 piano teachers I had were the ones that saved me musically.

They were the ones with the power and encouragment I needed to begin putting my heart in my music and to learn the value of hard practice.

It was with my last two teachers that I learned to love to play the piano and learned to enjoy my music.

So even though I feel I will never be able to teach my children piano as I want (they are just too emotionally tied to me) I am so thankful for the gift of piano playing that I have been been allowed to learn and enjoy and for how expressing oneself in music is such a great way for expressing ones emotions.

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