Featured Student, Colleen

Colleen started lessons this past September with me as an adult beginner. When I met her I had an immediate sense of “this is my kind of lady!” and 6 months later I look forward to every Thursday afternoon I spend with her very much. That’s a really cool thing about adult students. When you click with somebody a rapport grows, and it’s almost like making a new friend. In fact I have been very fortunate with my adult students. Almost all of them I wish I could be friends with in real life outside of my professional relationship with them. Colleen falls into that category. It has brought me a lot of joy and satisfaction to witness her breakthroughs with the piano one by one. Memorizing notes, learning how to read rhythms, playing hands together, there are so many milestones (if the student and teacher understand each other) early on in studying an instrument. Colleen has also made me think deeply about the challenges adult beginner students have and how to effectively help people through these as a teacher. Listening is a big part of it I think. Reassurance, encouragement, and reminders that perfection is not what we’re striving for here. All of my adult students are highly accomplished professionals. In my observation the challenges they face in learning how to play the piano stem from struggling to reconcile being a beginner in this one area with their expertise in their professional (and home, and volunteer) lives. When you are accustomed to the feeling of competence and success and the tangible rewards associated with that it can be very disorienting to experience the struggles of being a beginner. Some adults find this intolerable and they quit early on. But not Colleen. I hope I can have the pleasure of teaching her and learning from her for years to come.