Today one of my piano students, my most physically active student, dove in headfirst. I feel like it is important to follow the lead of a student like this, one who is tough to engage at times because he wants to stand on the bench, or play too many keys at once, and not necessarily do what I have in mind. Lots of days I cannot get him to join me in the pursuit of learning piano for more than a few minutes at a time, me regularly saying, “let’s slow it all down and try it again”. So when I see him assign himself the task of labeling all the notes of a new piece, I sit back and wait to be needed.
Today he did just that. He started writing the names of each note below them in the Ice Cream Boogie just because that’s what he wanted to do. He had just said to me when I opened the book to this new piece, “I could never play that.” He knows me well enough to realize it was time to remind me to write that down in his assignment book. So after “Ice Cream Boogie p. 18”, I wrote, “I could never play that.” We both know that it is a challenge I am presenting when I repeat back his own words as if they are gospel, us also both knowing full well they will soon be eaten. And that’s what happened. I feel that because he was in the mood to name the notes and was ready to see them in a new way, that he was ready to learn this piece mostly without me. And that’s what he did. Once he’d named all the notes, and believe me that took a while, I even wondered if it was a good use of our time, he just sat and played the thing. We smiled and laughed at how silly we can be to claim such things as “I could never play that”. Then I crossed all that out to remind us how quickly and easily we can change our minds.