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“No, you can’t do that!” He ran his fingers through his hair and stretched out a sigh.
“What am I doing wrong?” I asked. I thought the song was one of my best, and it had taken me quite a while to put together.
“You can’t count to that rhythm! One, two, three, four. One, two, three, four.” he strummed his own guitar to the pace of his spoken beats.
“One, two, three, four.” My guitar rang out my own rhythm, a swing, and as I counted, I smiled. “I can count to it: one, two, three and, four and.”
“No!” The cry bounced off the walls of the tiny space we were trapped in; the size of a walk-in closet.
He was frustrated today. The only greeting he offered me was a checkmark by ‘Saturday, 2:30 PM.’
I knew it was best to keep my head down. Joel was moody. He had his good days and his bad. Of course, I would be moody too if I was almost thirty years old and still holding on to a dream of becoming a famous musician. Don’t get me wrong, he was a great musician; the problem was that instead of touring the world, he was teaching guitar lessons in a local music store.
Joel once recited a saying to me; “Those who can’t do, teach.” To this I replied, “Those who lack the patience to teach, do.” I was asked to leave early that day.
I really didn’t mean to disrespect Joel as an instructor. However, he did need someone to point out to him, “Hey, maybe you’re in the wrong field.” I can’t take responsibility for that action, but I also can’t be sure whether or not my comment was a motive for his moving to Europe several weeks later.
Teaching shouldn’t be a fallback. A job in education, of any sort, requires tact, patience, and open-mindedness. My study with Joel, though it was short-lived, made me much more comfortable with my choice to major in education, because for the longest time, I agreed with him. I didn’t see any one skill to mold my life around, so I contented myself with the idea of becoming a teacher. My perspective shifted when I noticed that the character required to be an effective educator was rather rare. Joel didn’t possess the right qualities. He didn’t like people. He didn’t want to deal with them. That’s what made the difference.
I didn’t learn much about music from Joel. I didn’t learn how to read any better, how to write any better, how to develop my own rhythms any better, and no, I did not learn any cliché life lessons during the span of my training. The only thing I can proudly say I’ve accomplished in the Pianos ‘N Stuff basement is self-satisfaction; knowing that one day, I will be a better teacher than Joel simply because I will know more about my students than ‘Saturday, 2:30 PM.’