End of season is always challenging for both player and teacher. It is a time for auditions and recitals: end of school. The beginning of the long, untethered days of summer hang, tantalizingly close.
In order to be fully prepared for it all there needs to be repetition and lots of it. Weeks of the same scale and piece mean two very different, yet ironically similar things to the teacher and student.
The student feels repetition as tedious work. The question “why” seems to pop up frequently. The explanations and answers illicit “the look”- eyes glazed and unseeing and ears hearing only the Charlie Brown teacher voice.
To the teacher repetition means surprise. Surprise that the E major scale in four octaves could wander into so many keys over the course of weeks. I often ask the question “Are you sick of this piece yet?” and my students are always interested that the “yes” response is the good and correct one.
Recitals and auditions bring fear, pride, angst, tears and always, at some point, laughter.
I feel a true compulsion to mother my students, adults, teens, and children alike. To wrap warmth and empathy around them while simultaneously gently, but resolutely, pushing.
There are the students who will triumph in the manner of the tortoise and the hare. They will listen as I instruct and will take suggestions and step over the hurdle of talent.
And then there are the students who will cram for the recital, ignoring the repeated messages penned into their weary notebooks. In the early preparation stage the notes are filled with cheering and encouragement and as time passes slide into the philosophical with a dose of crankiness.
I have to make the difficult decision to let the inevitable happen. The lesson to be learned is bigger than preparing for cello work and it is organic in it's simplicity. The inevitable result of lack of preparation is disappointment in performance. My own children learned more form falling down and getting up than from being carried.
It is now, in the twilight of the season, that I know more fully what it means to teach. For now is the time to bring forth all of my talent, creativity and, if all else fails, the box of Popsicles. At the beginning of the term everything is shiny and new. I am a rock star with stickers. Now it is hard not to feel hurt by my students watching the clock.
But I teach - it is much of what I do and who I am, and if I have to I will fireman-carry each and every student across the finish line of May.