Saturday, December 14, 2013

Piano Student Proverbs

You know that really, really, REALLY great feeling you get after you finish teaching your last student for the year before it's time to fly home to Utah and family and mountains and snow and CHRISTMAS? I don't know how it is for you, but for me, the Hallelujah chorus suddenly begins to play in my head, and I start spontaneously leaping about my living room, deliriously overcome with blissful ecstasy.

Having taught over one thousand piano lessons this year, I thought it would be fun to compile a list of a few of my favorite piano student quotes (oh, that I had written more of them down!). Because, you know, why not? 

So here they are, organized in a somewhat chronological fashion. 

Me: How was your summer?
Little piano student: Good!
Me: Did you travel anywhere?
Little piano student: Yeah. I went to Singapore.
Me: You went to Singapore?!!
Little piano student: Oh, wait...I think it was called Seattle. 

10-year-old piano student: But playing hands together is so harrrrd!!! It's's like...trying to eat pizza and play a video game at the same time!

9-year-old student: I couldn't practice this week.
Me: Why?
Student: I hurt my pinky.
Me: Uh-oh! Can I see your finger? 
Student: Well, I hurt my pinky...toe.
Me: Your pinky *toe?* How does that prevent you from practicing piano?
Student [in a rather indignant tone, as if the answer is quite obvious]: I can't walk to the piano.

Me: "Be sure to play those notes evenly."
11-year-old piano student: "I don't think I can. The impatience of my left forefinger is far too great."

Me: Your new piece this week is called "Clog Dance." Do you know what clogging is?
6-year-old piano student: Yeah--like clogging the toilet? My brother does that all the time.

5-year-old piano student: "For my job when I grow up, I'm going to be Santa Claus. And on the weekends, I'm going to be a piano teacher."

Me: "That rhythm is incorrect. Why aren't you counting out loud like I asked you to?"
9-year-old piano student: "I need time to get my salivary glands working!" [proceeds to rub cheeks vigorously]

8-year-old student: "Why is this cord hooking the piano bench to the piano?"
Me: "So people don't move the bench out of the room or steal it, I guess."
Student [in a very self-assured tone of voice]: "Um, all someone has to do is bring a pair of scissors and a suitcase. Then they could just cut the cord and put the piano bench in their suitcase. Nobody would even know."

During the middle of her lesson, my 8-year-old student suddenly let out a burp and then said with a satisfied sigh, "Mmmm, sushi tastes soooo good."

My 9-year-old student had just arrived for her lesson and was taking off her jacket.
“Me: “That’s a nice jacket! Is it new?”
Student: “Yes!!! I love it because it’s sooooo soft—it’s like I’m wearing a puppy dog!”

Much to his distaste, I required my 11-year-old student today to complete his entire Hanon exercise without letting his wrists sag. As he was playing, he gave a dramatic groan and said, “This is like trying to ride a unicycle on top of a car that’s going 30 miles per hour!”

My 6-year-old student had just finished his lesson. He walked to a nearby table to play with some toys while his mother got out her calendar to mark the dates I will be out of town for Christmas. 
Me: “I’ll be flying home on the 15th.”
6-year-old, looking up from his action figures and staring at me incredulously: “Nuh-uh! You don’t have wings!”

10-year-old student: “Do you know why Michigan and Ohio hate each other so much?”
Me: “Why?”
Student: “Because they’re the only states who have ever fought a war against each other.”**
Me: “What about the Civil War?”
Student: “That doesn’t count.”

**Sidenote: Come to find out, there actually was a war between Michigan and Ohio, known as the Toledo War, which occurred in 1835-36. (????!!!) If you care to do so, you can read more about it here. And to give my student the credit he deserves, he said the Civil War didn't count because it involved multiple states fighting against multiple states.

My 6-year-old piano student looked me in the eye today and earnestly informed me, “Raccoons are secret ninjas of the jungle.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A squirrelly situation

The day had been hot and humid--a rather regular occurrence for a mid-summer's day in Ann Arbor. The evening sun was beginning to set at just the right angle so as to make driving a car both pleasant and dangerous: pleasant, because the mixture of colors in the sky as I looked through the windshield was like a painter’s palette; dangerous, because the sun was at the perfect angle so as to blind all drivers of vehicles on roadways, including myself. I had loaned my sole pair of sunglasses to someone at the church picnic a few days previous, and so I drove along South Division and over the bridge near the train station squinting my eyes almost shut in an attempt to avoid being blinded by the sudden appearance of the setting sun as the clusters of trees that had been blocking it from view abruptly ended. I coasted down the hill and came to a stop at the light where Maiden Lane and Moore intersect Broadway; the light turned green and I proceeded forward, leading the line of traffic. I drove for a block until I reached the next intersection where Broadway turned into Plymouth [Michigan’s streets have a habit of changing names suddenly and unexpectedly, for no other reason than to confuse and bewilder drivers, aiding and abetting the likelihood that those unfamiliar with the mitten state's clandestine street-naming practices will become utterly and hopelessly lost], and at last, I was back in the protection of the shade, cast by the shadows of a new group of towering trees at the edge of the road.

As I gave my Mazda a little gas to send it up the long hill, I could see the silhouette of a small animal up ahead, crouched next to the gutter on the far side of the wide, five-lane road. I immediately recognized the creature for what it was, as its species is without doubt far more abundant in the state of Michigan than all other living creatures combined. As if Sciurus carolinensis could hear my thoughts, it turned and looked at me, seemingly cocking its head, the cogs of its tiny brain whirring.

Shall I scamper across the street?” it thought. “Now that there are at least a dozen 2000-pound death darts headed my way, wouldn't this moment be an optimal time for me to get to the other side?

I stared the squirrel in the eye as best I could from a distance inside of the moving car.

“Don’t do it,” I thought. “Stay where you are. Do not cross the street.”

The squirrel rudely ignored me and continued its inward debate.

“Yes, yes—I know that the tragic deaths of Mother, my twin brothers Larry and Harry, dear old Aunt Mabel, Great Uncle Ted, five of my cousins, and my best friend Phinneus have all occurred under the rubber wheels of these great and terrible vehicles of doom…but that doesn't necessarily mean my fate will be the same, does it? After all, I was born for greater things than to be ground into the asphalt.”

“Don’t do it, little squirrel,” I silently willed.

Ahead, I could see some oncoming traffic beginning to trickle down the hill, headed straight for the ambivalent squirrel.

“Quick, while you’ve still got time! Jump back to the side of the road!” I soundlessly shouted at it.

But my pleas were ignored, and then contradicted.

“Yes, I am going to cross!” it seemed to decide. “For Mother! For Larry and Harry! For Phinneus! For Aunt Mabel and Great Uncle Ted!”

And with a defiant twitch of its tail, it began its journey across five lanes of traffic.

Lanes one and two were still empty; the oncoming traffic had not yet arrived. The squirrel triumphantly completed two-fifths of its journey.

The turn lane was also safe, as no one was in it; swiftly, the squirrel continued its dash.

But then it reached the fourth lane. My lane.

“What shall I do?!” I thought in a panic, vividly remembering my experience last summer on Geddes Road involving the exploding bunnyrabbit.

As the squirrel scurried in front of me, I hit my brakes.

But it was too late.

Thunk went my Mazda.

Horrified, I gazed into my rearview mirror and saw a feebly-quivering fluffy tail, attached to what was now a squirrel pancake. There was no explosion of fur as there had been with the bunnyrabbit; but alas, the results were the same.