Six years is not enough.

On paper I’m overqualified to teach piano lessons to beginners. I’ve played with Joshua Bell! So why can’t my student play steady eighth notes in C Major?! That’s where I was in my piano teaching career six years ago. Frustrated. Not with my students as much as with myself.

No matter how hard I taught at them I was always hyper aware of where they were lacking. Not a fun situation for them or me. And then I met Marilyn Lowe.

It was from Marilyn I learned that the real work of piano lessons is not to teach students my music, but to guide them as they learn their music. This is the holy grail for music teachers. And the more I drink from it the more little grails are formed in the minds and bodies and voices of the students I work with.

I was never one to lose patience with students. But I often lose patience with teachers who don’t see the brilliance of this work. I never saw Marilyn lose patience. No question was too simple for her to take time, day or night, to answer thoughtfully with care. Care for the material and for the person asking. Care for music.

I’m glad she never lost patience because I asked lots of questions. I quickly learned that Marilyn is one of those special people who every single thing she says is something I should take note of. And make use of. Something that will help me and my students learn some profound musical skill simply and elegantly.

Her work was brilliant not because it was above us but because it was us. It IS us.

Every time I move to music with a student or hear them create with tonal patterns, Marilyn’s work lives on. I’m not overqualified or underqualified. I’m qualified to keep learning. So are you. And to joyfully participate in learning with others. Whether they’re other students or teachers. I’m not sure it matters much.

Six years was not enough for me to know Marilyn Lowe. But the spark of creation she inspires in me and my students is timeless. In this way friendship is infinite.

I miss you, Marilyn! My friend and mentor. Thank you. I’m grateful.

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