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The Keys to Success

The Keys to Success
“Hey Rory, how about some Billy Joel?” Every single time my family has company over, my dad begs me to play piano for our guests. He was extra proud that I, his daughter, could play all types of music, ranging from The Beatles to Lady Gaga. Usually, the adults that were over our house would come into the ‘piano room’ and listen to me play, pretending to be interested. I don’t think they were ever actually impressed with my ability play the piano. A few claps and “good jobs” would be it, and then they would return to their original conversations. My dad never noticed or cared; he was still delighted.

A few months ago, just like every other time, my dad had me perform a few songs on the piano for our visitors. “Come on Rory, tickle those ivories. Let’s hear some John Lennon”. As usual, most people listened, some sang along, and others paid little to no attention. However, my mom’s friend, Amy, was mesmerized by my piano skills. “Play it again! Play another one! This is fantastic!” I ultimately ended up playing all evening; by the end of the night, I could not even feel my fingers.
A few days later, I received a call. “Hi Rory, it’s Amy. I was wondering if you would be interested in giving my son, Owen, piano lessons?” My heart stopped, and I felt paralyzed. I had never been successful at teaching anybody anything. Piano comes naturally to me, so I was not sure if I would be able to explain it thoroughly to somebody that knows absolutely nothing about it. I was extremely nervous and caught off-guard; I told Amy that I would think about it. I wanted badly to tell her that I “didn’t have enough time” or “I didn’t think it would work out,” but I knew my dad would be disappointed with me if did that. Instead, I decided to be brave and accept her offer. Before I knew it, we were planning dates, hours, and payments. Then, the next big question came along, “Oh yeah, my neighbor, Aryn, is interested in learning piano as well. She’s the same age as my son and would like to take lessons from you.” Great, as if I was not stressed out enough, I now had two students to deal with. The two of them agreed to attend the first few practices together, as I would be teaching both children the same notes and beats anyway. The Thursday after Thanksgiving would be our first lesson, at 4:45 pm.

Although track usually ends around 3:30pm, of course it ended at 4:00pm that Thursday, and I had to rush home as fast as I could. I sat on the piano bench and sorted out my pre-reading and beginning level books over and over again. I paced around the room nervously, glancing at the clock each time I passed it. Finally, the doorbell rang. My dogs rushed to greet the strangers and immediately began to jump and lick my new students. This was not the greatest beginning to our series of lessons. I ran to pry my excited little dogs off of Aryn and Owen, but both students were already giggling and playing with the silly animals. We walked over into the piano room and sat down on the bench. I had no idea where to even start. It probably would have helped if I had made some sort of lesson plan, but of course I hadn’t thought of that. Aryn and Owen looked up at me with nervous eyes, and I could tell that they were just as anxious as I was. Within five minutes, the three of us were already laughing and having a great time. I printed out pictures of the keyboard and taught the kids how to label the individual notes with the accompanying sharps and flats. By the end of the practice, the two of them could point out different notes on the keyboard without even looking at the sheet I made them. I was glowing with joy. Aryn and Owen were so easy to teach and were eager to learn. When the Aryn’s mother, Holly, arrived at my house to pick the two of them up, they ran to the door and started telling her all about what they had learned in just one forty-five minute practice. I stood confidently at my front door with great pride as Holly thanked me.

Aryn and Owen still come to practices together and are progressing rapidly. They can read music easily and display improvement with each week that passes. Last week, one of the students showed me that he learned to play one of the songs with his eyes closed! I couldn’t believe that I even doubted wanting to teach piano. As a result, I am much more confident and strong with my leadership and teaching skills. Just the other day, my lacrosse coach asked me to work with a group of players to teach them how to properly check an opposing player. Usually, I would be reluctant to do so, but this time I was actually excited to be teaching my teammates something. I simply thought of my piano lessons and proceeded to tell all that I knew about checking. Now, I honestly look forward to teaching piano to Aryn and Owen. I can’t wait to watch them advance more and more. Hopefully, they will be playing the piano for company at their houses one day.



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