Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's Official....

I still love teaching! This is good news because it is my "retirement" plan, the only one I've got so far.

I started teaching piano when I was 14 years old. I hid that fact from my piano teacher because I thought she would be horrified. I only charged twice as much as I made from babysitting because I didn't want to rip off any of my poor guinea pig students. I went on to get a B.Mus. in piano performance with the intent of becoming a professional piano teacher.

I put off getting a M.M. because I had become interested in going to law school. I took the LSAT and did pretty well on it so that was definitely a possibility. I also wanted to make sure that I liked teaching piano enough to spend the additional money on a masters degree because I knew it would undoubtedly be much more difficult to pay off student loans as a piano teacher than it would be as a lawyer. I also wanted to party like it was 1999, but that's another story. Fortunately that phase didn't last too long.

So I taught piano. And I loved it. I had 35-45 students most of the time. One year I had 55 but that was a little too much. I was involved with all of the local music organizations, and hosted 3 or 4 recitals per year for my students. I made sure that they got used to performing because it's supposed to be fun, right? Most of them seemed to enjoy it. They all did well in the various competitions they played in too, especially in the ensemble events.

Somewhere in there I took up the bass. It was my fun new hobby. I was teaching piano full time and playing bass here, there, and everywhere. I didn't practice much because I was too busy playing. Gradually I started getting gigs. After several years I got a call to do a road gig playing "Meet Me in St. Louis" for 3 months and that pretty much changed everything for me.

I spent a few years gradually easing out of teaching and I've pretty much just been a bass player for the past 10 years. Over all the money's not as good, but the experience has been well worth it. I love performing on the bass, especially in a group setting. Who knew? I wasn't particularly crazy about performing when I was a pianist. And I love the travel opportunities that have come my way. I'm missing that a lot right now, but if I go on the road my house will never get finished. On the very first day of school this year, I got a call about a 3 month gig with a piano player and singer at a hotel in Dubai. Way to rub it in, ye cursed forces of nature!

So I'm in school, and my teaching assistantship duties include teaching a beginning jazz theory and improvisation course and coaching a combo. And I have to say I love teaching just as much as I ever did. There's just something about it. So far it's my favorite part of being back in school.

I am especially overjoyed to realize that this is still true, after 10 years of not doing it, because we designed our house with a really nice set up for me to teach in. Once I become too old and decrepid to lug the bass and sound equipment around all over the place, I will go back to teaching piano, and maybe bass too. And I will probably do it until the day I die.


Mo said...

You're amazing! I wished that I had stayed with any one of the dozen instruments I picked up and quickly abandoned as a child, but c'est la vie. I suppose I could dust off that banjo in my closet and torture my partner with my practicing...

Here's to a very happy semester!

Barbara said...

Can I take piano lessons from you? I really do need a teacher! And you sound like you would make learning and performing fun. It's just too bad we live so far apart.

Cyndy said...

Mo - You play banjo? That's great!

Barbara - I wasn't really planning to get back into teaching piano until I "retire" from bass playing. I'm not equipped to teach here so you'd have to wait until I move back into my house. And although I might know how to make it fun, I can also get pretty bossy, especially about things like fingernails and the metronome. I think that has scared off some of my adult students in the past. But I know I would enjoy teaching you.
On the other hand, there are lots of good teachers out there and I'm sure if you keep looking you'll find one who is not so far away.