Harpening

Harpening

All that is harpening!

Start of the new school year.

Being a music teacher has its perks. Every week I get to meet lovely people in my lessons, it is a varied job and a nice challenge to teach everyone on his/her own level and because I teach lessons people choose to go to themselves I usually see happy faces.

Small disadvantage is the amount of organising at the beginning of the new school year. As an independent music teacher it is always a puzzle how to plan the lessons. Of course I would like to make a schedule that suits everyone’s needs and where all the lessons fit neatly after one another (so I don’t have huge breaks in between to wait for the next student) but there are always a few setbacks.

Apart from my work as a music teacher I have some other jobs that are a bit different: festivals where I teach and concerts I give, with the added rehearsals of course. Which means that I have to plan the lessons for the whole school year ahead of time: which days can I teach? When do I have to ask my students to have their lesson on a different day? Do I get to teach the amount of lessons I set for the school year?
This last question is very important: as a teacher you have a responsibility towards your students to teach on a regular basis. As a student you lose your motivation when you miss too many lessons in a row: you are working on the same pieces for too long, any questions you had about the pieces are long forgotten and you don’t feel like there is any new input to take your piece to the next level. Plus there is the chance you misread a rhythm or note, which by now is so much part of your playing that it is almost impossible to change it.
On the other side I find it important to have a career in which I play concerts and teach workshops: it makes sure I keep learning new things and know how hard it can be to perform. It makes me a better teacher.
Luckily my students are usually very flexible: a lesson on a different day is usually not a problem and they like coming to see me perform.

When the vacations are over I look forward to seeing my students again. Did they have a good time during their vacation? One of my students went to Bolivia for 4 weeks this summer: what an experience! I love hearing their stories. Every once in a while there is a student who meets a harpist abroad, for instance a student who met an Italian harpist in a restaurant there and even got to play his harp.

After the vacation I always hear “I had wanted to do more during the vacation, but it just didn’t happen, we were gone a lot of the time”. Oh well, of course I understand, because I myself spend a lot of time outside in the sun instead of behind my harp and I always plan on doing more than I can actually make happen. Sometimes this breather can make for nice surprises: a piece that wasn’t finished before the vacation has somehow matured and now gets learned much quicker and better.

For everyone who is starting up again after the vacation: don’t be too hard on yourself, your teacher is human and understands you are too. Just pick up where you left off and enjoy!

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