She Taught ME How to Teach
I finished my Master's Degree at Peabody Conservatory and started a concert career. I participated in big international competitions like the Van Cliburn Competition in Texas and the Artur Rubenstein in Israel. I won the American Pianists Association Fellowship. I played a lot of concerts: solo recitals, chamber music and concertos.
I loved it, I really did.
At least the playing part. But I didn't love traveling by myself. It was too lonely for me, so I started teaching to supplement my concert income.
That's when I got lucky. I began by working as an assistant to a much more experienced teacher. She had more students than she could possibly teach and I had exactly one I'd gotten on my own. At the time I thought, stupidly, that I was doing her a favor by bringing the prestige of my brilliance to her little studio. I couldn't have been more mistaken.
It was she who did me the favor. She taught me how to teach. She taught me how to run a business. She taught me how to deal with tricky piano parents. She showed me that teaching children can be rewarding - both financially and emotionally. She taught me that using a piano method could make my life easier and my teaching more organized.
I remember one day she was having a particularly rough day so I offered to teach her afternoon students for her.
"Oh NO!" she replied. "Those kids are going to make me feel so much better!"
I think of her every time I'm having a rough day and remember how much better I'll feel after teaching.
I love this picture of her chatting with the famous composer, Jake Heggie, at a party.
I eventually moved from my studio apartment into a house with a big deck that I soon covered with pots of blooming flowers. I stopped teaching in her studio because I had plenty of my own students. I started to create a world of music in my own studio. I built fires in the fireplace on rainy afternoons to make my studio so comfy that people didn't want to leave. (I still do that.)
Now I live in a big house, still with lots of pots of flowers blooming.
In a twist of fate, it turns out the biggest favor Carol ever did was having a son who has become my closest friend and collaborator, Keith Snell. Thanks, Carol. We couldn't have done it without you.
Who helped you get started?
Are you a new teacher? Could you find a more experienced teacher to help you get started?
Is there someone out there who needs your help to get on the path to being a great teacher?