Summer is in full bloom now. As I drive down our dirt road, the maples reach overhead to join hands with the trees on the opposite side creating a lush arch lining our way home. Running errands downtown, the temperature in my car reads 83. As I rumble down the lane into the shade of the trees, the temperature now reads a cool 74.
We have Sam’s pool on the deck. Anytime he has finished working he races up the hill and leaps into his pool where he takes a moment to lie still and relish the cool water before lifting each front paw, one after the other, then dropping each hard enough to generate a big splash that gives him a delighted facefull. He repeats this acrobatic feat making him the first pup to graduate from dog paddle to full-on crawl.
In the warm months my teaching schedule relaxes a bit. In order to give people the chance to enjoy their summer trips and vacations I switch from a set weekly schedule to a sign up sheet. Old school, it sits on the dining room table and offers the times I am available to teach. Everyone can make the decision to come weekly, bi-weekly, twice weekly or...non-weekly. The side effect of not seeing everyone regularly is that I lose some of the connection to their daily lives.
Audrey will study less frequently in the summer but will come in a few times. Now that she drives herself, her schedule is more her own. Early in the summer she asked me if I would be free a certain date in July to play at the local library. It seemed there is a senior program offered. Because she is a library volunteer, and the program head knew that she played the cello, it seemed that music would make a nice addition to the event. Unfortunately I was going to be away during the time she needed a duet partner. When I got her email with the request and knowing I wasn’t going to be able to do it, my first thought was that she would not do it either. It is one thing to sit beside your teacher and play, entirely another to play solo for an hour (even I mouthed, “an hour??”)
I have taught Audrey since she was in fourth grade. She is lovely, talented and an accomplished cellist - she is also rather shy.
While at the lake I received an email from a musical friend who told me that she had gone to the library program and had seen Audrey play. She went into detail about what she had played and what she had spoken about. Her final comment was “I told Audrey that I felt very lucky to just know her.”
As I sat reading the email I felt that wonderful feeling you get when you are aware that something really special has happened. What had happened was Audrey had come into her own.
There are many things that can be taught; reading music, technique and even interpretation, but what you cannot teach is how powerful it is to use the gift of music to help other people. We suggest it, we even require it at certain points, but here was a situation where Audrey had an easy “out” and chose not to take it. She chose to step forward, use her beautiful sound to help, heal and delight others without the promise of any payback.
It is the purest reason why we learn, play, perform. It is the purest reason why I teach.