I am writing this is an haze of elation. My blood is jumping in my veins and I feel like I can take on anything! Even the most mundane tasks are okay to me right now, and I’m actually motivated to do them.
This is how success makes me feel.
Last week, I taught my very first flute lesson, and it turned out a disaster. I was not prepared, I was nervous, and I had no idea what was coming out of my mouth. I sent my student and her mom out the door wondering if they would come back.
I panicked a bit today when they weren’t here at four, when they said they’d be. Did she drop everything and run? I wondered. Did she decide to go for someone more experienced?
But no, they showed up around 4:20, to my relief. And this time, I knew exactly what I was doing.
If it wasn’t for my own amazing teacher, this week would have been just like the first. But at my own lesson this week, she gave me some teaching tips, and even copied off some pages out of a beginner book for me because I gave away my own. She reminded me of a lot of technical stuff that I now take for granted, such as what to look for when you hold your flute. I’ve been playing for so long that I just pick it up and blow, but there is a lot of skill that goes into just that. She reminded me of finger placings that are very difficult for a beginner, things I wouldn’t have even thought about. That woman is awesome. Teachers are awesome.
Because of that, I knew just what to say to A, my student. I watched her blow into her head joint and gave her a few tips on that. Then I made sure she was putting her flute together correctly and helped her with her finger placement. Then we practiced making a good sound with the whole flute.
We spent most of the half hour doing that, and unlike last week, it passed really quickly. She would blow into the whole flute until the sound wouldn’t come out anymore, then we would take the head joint out and try with just that a few times. Then we’d put the flute back together, place our hands correctly, and blow into the whole flute.
I’ve realized that a lot of a flute lesson is teaching the student how to practice. I can give A tips, and correct her mistakes in lessons, but the vast majority of skill comes from the student. I have to guide her so she can teach herself. And it’s really a cool thing!
I did make a few mistakes, of course. I told A all about time signatures and measures even though she won’t be reading music for a while yet. But maybe that will help her remember better when the time comes. Who knows. Right now I’m just happy I didn’t fail completely.
The half hour was over before I knew it. I copied off a name-that-note sheet for A to fill in and wrote out pretty detailed instructions for when she practices this week. Then I sent them out the door, much happier, I’m sure, than last week.
I’ve taken several spiritual gifts tests over the years, and teaching always comes up as one of mine. I’ve wondered about this, because I’m not really great at explaining things unless I write out what I’m going to say. But today confirmed that those tests aren’t wrong. Now I feel like I really can do this. I really can teach A to be a good player.
Teaching is already helping me to know myself better, as well. My main spiritual gift usually comes up as administration, and I’ve read that spiritual administrators write everything down — just like I have to write down how I explain concepts. Now I can see how my gifts work together within my personality. They aren’t separate attributes; they are two parts that are distinct, but that blend together to make me who I am. That, my friends, is really a profound discovery.
You know how people say that teaching teaches the teacher more than the student? I get that now.