The End of an Era

When I closed my Manhattan piano studio in May of 2007, over half of my students had been with me since they first started lessons (the others were transfer students), some for over nine years.  That’s a long time. 

This summer, at the end of June, five of my students came together at a student’s home for an informal concert.  Two of them represented opposite ends of my studio:  little John, four years old, had just started lessons some five months prior; Jamey, though at fourteen not my oldest student, was finishing his tenth year with me.  

Jamey had, from the beginning, a passion for the piano, he’s always delighted in figuring things out by ear – most recently parts of Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet Suite and Rachmaninov’s C minor Concerto, and he has a natural talent for piano technique – there wasn’t much teaching or correcting I had to do, it was more guiding him; I’d show him once or twice, and he’d get it.  At the moment, he loves romantic piano music, likes ragtime, tolerates Beethoven, and strongly dislikes Bach.  Over the years, our relationship changed from teacher-student to a more equal, collegial one.  We share the love of discovery, and immersing ourselves in piano music, listening, playing, sharing.

Even though there’s still so much I could and would like to teach Jamey, I decided a while ago that it was time for him to move on to a new teacher.  I felt he needed a fresh face, a new voice, a new – everything, different gender even.  Somehow, since the decision to transition to a different teacher was made, our lessons have changed:  they are now even more relaxed and enjoyable.  Gone is the pressure and my expectation to make progress all the time – and thus my frustration if things didn’t move as I thought they should.  I enjoy hearing about the lessons he’s had with his potential new teacher (we intentionally overlapped for a bit), and he enjoys showing me new things he learned. 



Two days ago, on Friday, we had our last – official – lesson.  He’s now not “my student” anymore.  Soon, he will have a new piano teacher (he has a meeting scheduled with another potential teacher in a week).  We confirmed, again, at the end of the lesson our desire to stay in touch, and that I will always take a strong interest in his piano education.  His mother who has over the years become a wonderful friend presented me with a picture book they had put together, pictures and memories covering these past ten years.

Ten long years.