November 25, 2010

Tips From My Studio - Beginning A Lesson

Comparatively, I have not been teaching piano for very long. I have taught my siblings for several years ( I started all 4 of them as beginners) but other than that I have only been teaching “real” students months. 

Ok, now is the point where you roll your eyes and say, “And she thinks she has tips to give ME??”

Yeah, thats about how I feel too. Next to most of you, I feel about knee-high in the area of teaching. Ok, make that ankle-high.

But even in my limited teaching experience, I have learned a few small things. (And I mean small.) Most of this stuff you probably already know, but in the event that you don’t, hopefully it will be a blessing to you.

This first thing I would like to share is about beginning a lesson. All those years I “just” taught my siblings, I usually began a lesson with, “Ok, lets have a lesson now” or, “Will you stop talking long enough for me to get a word in?” or something similar to that. It wasn’t until I got to college (at least thats the first time it really sunk in with me) that my teacher, Mrs. Susan Smith, prayed with me at the start of every lesson.

Now just perhaps my previous teachers did pray with me, but if they did, the weight of that didn’t sink in until college. Even then, I didn’t start doing it in my own lessons. Things take a while to penetrate this thick skull.

What I did notice about these lessons with Mrs. Smith was that praying at the start of a lesson really calmed my nerves and settled me down to get serious about the lesson. It also showed me what the focus of our lesson was...not to impress my teacher, but to bring glory to God. Yes, even an ordinary, mundane, and (heaven forbid) boring lesson should bring glory to God!

As I said before, even though I thought starting in prayer was wonderful, I did not start doing it with my siblings. After all, they are “just” my siblings. (In case you are wondering, that is the wrong attitude to have!! My poor siblings...I had so much to learn! But that is another post for another time.)

Finally, this summer when I started teaching “real” students, it sunk in. Probably because I felt more scared about teaching other people, and I felt like I really needed the Lord’s help! It is sad, but isn’t that how we so often treat prayer?? We don’t realize how much we need it until we are in a situation we can’t handle without it. 

So I thought, well, why not try this with my siblings lessons, too? And you know what? It has radically changed our lessons! Because when I did not start the lesson with our focus on God and bringing Him the glory, and when I had the attitude that it is “just” my siblings, those siblings had the same reaction: “Its “just” my sister.” Not good. But once I started beginning in prayer, they began responding to me as a teacher way better. They are more cooperative and seem to enjoy the lesson more....even the boring parts. (Oops, I said the forbidden “b” word again!)

So you ask, what do I pray for at the beginning of a lesson? I pray that I will speak only the words that will help the student. I try to remember to pray for the student by name and pray something specific for him or her. I pray that all we do in the lesson will bring honor and glory to God. And I pray that we will redeem our time during the lesson. (Ephesians 5:16)

Sometimes I let the student pray, if it is someone that is comfortable with praying out loud. The purpose of praying is not to make the student uncomfortable, so I don’t make them pray unless they want to. 

Do you start your lessons in prayer? How has prayer worked in and through your studio and your student’s lives?


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