This past summer I taught piano lessons free of charge both to Circle families and to families at my church. I thought it might be a nice way to earn some extra volunteer hours, but more importantly, I wanted to share the gift of music with others. The idea to try teaching has been fluttering around in my thoughts for a long time, but it was only recently that my family and I worked to make it a reality. Although it has taken a lot of hard work and time, it has been an incredible experience! Not only have I been allowed to bless other people, but I’ve also grown and matured – I have learned a ton of valuable life lessons these past few months!
One of the first things I learned is that you can’t base decisions off of your initial reaction. Once I had scheduled in the first lesson with my first student, I was sick to my stomach with worry. I couldn’t sleep, and my thoughts were racing in circles. I was convinced that I had no business teaching; after all, I’m just a teenager, and I haven’t graduated from a prestigious music program or anything. When we first met up for lesson one, I felt a terrible sensation of dread clinging to me as I took those heavy footsteps toward the piano… but, much to my surprise, I survived the first encounter, and the second, and the third… Now, at the tail end of the summer, I can look back over the hours I’ve spent teaching and see that the fear has slowly waned, and I’ve actually come to enjoy teaching a lot! I am so grateful to my past self for making myself face the initial fear; I would have missed out on so many wonderful experiences if I’d let worry make my life decisions.
Also, I feel like I’ve become a more balanced person from the experience. I’ve been forced to develop better communication skills and “get out of my box” when meeting new people. I’m learning how to balance planning and improvising; I always like to prepare something to do for my lessons, but at the same time, it’s refreshing to change up the plan and invent things to do while we’re in the middle of a lesson, based on how the student seems to be feeling. I’ve learned a lot about going with the flow and letting the experience happen, instead of trying to control it.
But I feel that the most important thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to be “perfect” to be a blessing to others. I still wonder if I’m really qualified to be teaching; since I write up my own sheet music and worksheets and such, I sometimes worry that I’ll make a mistake and teach something wrong. But, technicalities aside, I love music. I love the way it can make you laugh and cry and sing and dance, and how every note gets inside your emotions. Music really is a gift from God, and gifts are meant to be given, not hoarded. I think it would be worse to hide a gift but never make a mistake, than to just share it and fix the rough spots along the way.
So, in conclusion, I know that this article technically is about me; but I think it’s about you, too. We all have gifts, talents, and resources, and if you aren’t sure where they are, you just might have to search a little. I read a quote lately that reminded me of what it means to share: “Use what talents you posses; the woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” The world could be such a beautiful place if we smashed up our own insecurities, fears, and pride, and just shared our God-given gifts, however humble they might be.