There have been moments in my teaching career that really stand out. (For anyone who doesn't know, I'm a violin, viola, and piano teacher.) These are times when I feel that I have made a profound difference in a student's life. This evening I had such an experience.
When I teach, I try to play with a lot of feeling and emotion, because that's what music is all about. It's not just notes on a page. I always hope that a student will feel the music in his or her soul, and that it will evoke some kind of emotion. Usually that doesn't happen. A student may play things loud and soft and with correct phrasing, but not always feel it.
Tonight, I was teaching a young piano student a piece that he had been working on for a couple of weeks. It was a very beautiful piece of music. When I looked at him, I noticed a few tears rolling down his cheeks.
"Are you okay?" I asked.
He nodded. "It's just.. the music is hard on me."
"You're playing it beautifully, though," I said. Then I paused. "What you're saying is that the music makes you sad?"
He nodded again.
I thought I was going to cry - out of sheer joy . Why? This student is autistic. He has trouble expressing feelings and emotions. Yet, through music, he is able to feel and express what's inside. What a tremendous gift! I feel so blessed that I have been able to share this gift with him.