Thursday, September 15, 2011

Annual dilemma

We're finally back into the routine of the school year, and weekly piano lessons are part of my routine.  It's a good thing I love what I do: I'm afraid I'm not too busy yet.  I have this annual dilemma come mid-September.  Where did all the students go?  Returning students tend to trickle back.  By October, my fears are usually assuaged, but that doesn't make September any easier.

My reasoning for slow registration is simply this -- kids do too much, and parents have little time.  Of course, I allow the slow return.  The beginning of the school year is always fraught with obligations, paperwork, and deadlines.  It takes about a month to get into the flow of the new year.  Even lessons at the college do not begin until mid-September.  And this year in particular, we experienced an earthquake on the first day of school, followed by Hurricane Irene and an extra week of torrential downpours, plus all the consequential school closings.  So it's no wonder it takes a few weeks to get my school age students back at the piano.

Reading other teachers' blogs, however, I don't see my slow-registration problem to be an issue for others.  Somehow they convince their parents to register in July, and pony up the first month's tuition with the early registration.  I guess I'm just too easy on my parents.  Someday I will get tough and learn how to begin the season full steam.  But until then, mid-September will remain a bit scary for me.

(An aside.  My current students are already working on scary Halloween music for an October mini-recital.  Maybe that's what makes my mid-September so scary.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

And so it goes...

We're back.  Back from vacations at the beach, picnics in the park, baseball and hot dogs and all that summer represents.  Back to work, back to school, back to the humdrum of daily practice.  No, stop!  Did I say humdrum?  Never, never!  In fact, I have just purchased a drum, of sorts: an African sanza.  More like a drum with a keyboard.  It's a bowl carved out of wood and topped, seamlessly, with wood.  An etching of a face has been burned into the wood, holes carved as eyes, above which are 8 metal keys of different lengths, thus playing 8 different pitches.  The underside of the bowl shows a woodburning of a drum.  As a piece of primitive art, it is beautiful.  As a tonal percussion instrument, it is intriguing.  I'm not sure how I can weave it into a piano lesson, but I'm going to give it a try.

I also have a bongo drum, which, yes, I use in piano lessons.  Despite the tune "I've got rhythm, I've got music.  Who could ask for anything more?", rhythm can be a difficult concept for some folks.  Counting, clapping, using words instead of notes doesn't always cut it.  I have found, however, that beating a drum tends to break through the rhythm barrier.  Outside of lessons, it's just fun to play.

I wonder what I can do with the 2 kazoos I have by my piano?  Nothing humdrum here!