By Jim Lansing
The Rascal Flatts song “My Wish” is one of my wife’s favorite songs. The chorus goes:
“My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you're out there getting where you're getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too,
Yeah, this, is my wish.”
This became her anthem, a song she would sing to my boys. It resonated so much with my eldest son, now a college junior, that he and my wife got matching tattoos of the phrase “Dreams stay big, Worries stay small.”
As a piano teacher, I have dreams for each of my students: I wish that they will play piano for the rest of their lives. We begin this musical adventure by learning how to hold their hands/fingers, how to sit on the bench, and how the mechanisms work inside the piano. We also learn musical concepts like note values, names of spaces/lines, and playing loudly/softly. Through practice and recitals, students build up their skills and confidence.
My wish for each student is that they lead “Happy Birthday” from the bench when their families gather to celebrate milestones. Maybe they’ll accompany a song by their school choir. Perhaps they’ll play a piece at a family wedding. Once they’ve done that, they might make a musical offering during a worship service at their house of worship. Their path might lead them to play keyboard in a garage band with their friends, audition for their school jazz band, or even earn a few bucks playing in a church worship band. Some of these activities could take six, eight, even ten years of study to achieve. A few students will become that proficient; many will not.
When a student announces their “retirement” from piano lessons, it often coincides with their move to middle school and a shift to playing a band or orchestra instrument. At this point, my wish for them being lifelong pianists shifts to a dream they will be lifelong musicians. When they are “out there getting where [they’re] getting to,” maybe they’ll join a drum & bugle corps, a church choir, or a community orchestra and continue to make music!
Should they quit their musical endeavors, my final wish is that become lifelong consumers of music. For the musical arts to survive, we need people to purchase tickets to concerts, buy recordings, and otherwise make it possible for musicians to make a living at their craft.
While I don’t have lyrics tattooed on my body, “My Wish” resonates with me just the same. As a piano teacher, I hope that each student will become a lifelong pianist. I wish this for every student because you can never predict what each will achieve!
Jim Lansing is a piano teacher in Bloomington, MN. You can find out more about him at www.jimthepianoguy.com or follow him at www.facebook.com/JimThePianoGuy.