Every year, new beginners are introduced to me by parents who want to give their children a lifetime gift of music. Beginners from previous years step up to intermediate levels, and those at intermediate move up to advanced levels. When advanced students get to university, they usually become too busy to continue with regular music lessons. By that time the gifts of music that their parents gave them as little children have already become part of their daily lives. As the years go by, I see a constant flow of students coming in as small children and moving on as young adults. It is this steady passage, this transformation in the lives of young people that gives me great joy and inspiration as a teacher.
I marvel to see them develop and progress as they journey through their early musical lives to later blossom into wonderful mature persons. Music education has this unique ability to mold a child’s character while he learns and enjoys an art. Daily practice and participation in musical events help to develop certain character traits that are useful in adult life – discipline, persistence, focus, self-esteem, self-confidence. When nurtured with love, the child learns to be respectful of his peers, to gracefully accept that there are others who are better and others who are lesser than himself. In competitions, he learns to be humble. He understands that winning is not everything, but draws satisfaction from simply trying his very best.
In the words of Dr. Shinichi Suzuki, “when love is deep much can be accomplished.”
Early on, a child discovers that in order to play well he needs to have a certain level of proficiency. He realizes that with daily practice, concentration and persistence he can develop good skill. There will be times when frustration sets in because the learning process, if taken seriously, is not easy. It is our task as parents and teachers to recognize these low moments and to provide them encouragement and support. As they develop their skills, they happily realize that the beautiful music they create is worth all the effort. They begin to experience that uplifting inner feeling and propel themselves to do even better.
As they move on to university and beyond, some will take musical studies to become pianists, performers, academics and teachers. Most of them will pursue non-musical professions. Regardless of the path they choose, the character traits acquired from their music education will most definitely help to make a bright future a reality. Andy Bowman, my student for 13 years, will start a new phase as he goes to university next year. I wish him nothing but the very best.
Each one of them will find countless opportunities in life to express their musicality and enjoy the Gift of Music that their parents gave. I am privileged and elated to have a small part, albeit small, in my students’ character development through music.