My Inspiration as a Teacher - Jacqueline Courson
My Inspiration as a Teacher ?>

My Inspiration as a Teacher

The many benefits I have received through music - personal growth, friendships, an outlet for self-expression - compel me to share these gifts with students. As a teacher, I am able to make this world a better place by improving the lives of my students. In turn, these students will improve the lives of everyone who hears their beautiful music. Guiding students in their music journey is the most fulfilling experience I have had professionally.

rainbow of umbrellas rising into the sky as weightlessly as if they have come alive“Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”
Howard Thurman

My Story

At four years old, the old 1890s upright grand piano in my parent's family room loomed above me.

The deep low notes shook my core, the high notes flitted about like butterflies and fairies. I played with the brass pedals, learning how each affected the strings, and my small fingers tapped at the keys as I experimented with sound. Enchanted by this large and powerful instrument, I wanted to learn how these sounds worked together. I wanted to play the music I heard all around me and imagined making my own songs.

For three years, I begged my parents to "teach me to play!" while I tinkered with the collection of my mom's old beginner books from childhood.

Teaching Myself

playing Christmas music on an organ as a child
Playing Christmas music on the organ at my grandmother's home in 1992.

My parents hesitated to send me to private lessons. Mom had taken lessons and, as so many children do, stopped after it became too difficult and boring. Before investing in lessons, my parents wanted to be sure my interest was not just a passing whim.

My mom began to teach me from her old books and I learned the basics, tapping out simple melodies. Then one Christmas, I received a keyboard that came with a few songs in chart form - a melody and some chords for songs like the Beatles' Get Back and My Favorite Things. I didn't know how to play chords yet so I imitated the diagrams, pushing the notes down that had dots on the keys. I was just copying the drawings and had no idea what I was really doing, but I liked how it sounded!

When I reached the point where my mother's knowledge and teaching ability ran out and I was annoying everyone with the same 5 songs I kept playing on my keyboard, my parents were finally convinced it would be worthwhile to spend their hard-earned money to find a teacher. My parents couldn't pull me away from the piano. I had even begun to teach my friends songs when they came over to play!

Taking Lessons: Time to Grow!

playing the grand piano at a piano recital as a child
Spring piano recital, 1993

At the age of seven, I was blessed to begin lessons with the wonderful woman who would continue to teach me through all my years of private instruction. She was warm, friendly, and always encouraging. Her style fostered my growing interest in piano to bloom into the love of music I have today.

In piano lessons, I learned proper technique, developed finger strength and dexterity through drills. I played classical, folk, pop and rock - keeping my young mind engaged but still providing a firm foundation for future growth. Theory was worked into the lessons for an understanding that there is a science behind the music. Although I was was not particularly interested in music history, there was enough material available so that I could become as familiar as I wanted to be with the life stories of the classical composers. For eight years, I was engaged with weekly private instruction, occasional "group lessons" with her other students, and annual recitals with family and friends in attendance.

Attentive and Kind, the Recipe for a Great Teacher

Over the years, my musician friends and I have swapped stories about our early days in private piano lessons. One learned well with a rigid instructor, who snapped their fingers with a pen upon every missed note (although her memories of lessons are not so fond!). Others had enjoyed their piano lessons and transferred their music knowledge to other instruments they favored. Many who enjoyed their lessons still play as adults, either professionally or for pleasure.

However, there have also been sad stories from non-musician friends, similar to my mother's experience. Months and years of boring and repetitious lessons, aloof teachers, and constant drilling drove these students away from the instrument. The common element among these sad stories is that all of these adults wished they had "stuck with piano"through the boring times or had switched to a more engaging teacher. These sad stories motivate me to recreate the warm environment and customized instruction that my teacher had provided to me. My teacher's attention to the individual needs and goals of each student is what inspires my teaching method today.

together, the piano's white and black keys communicate life's beautiful complexities“Life is like a piano; the white keys represent happiness and the black show sadness.
But as you go through life’s journey, remember that the black keys also create music.”

Author Unknown

Inspired by My Students

My mission is to serve the community by encouraging self-expression through the study and creation of music. To succeed in this mission, I strive to be in tune with the needs, interests and talents of my students - offering supplemental materials and plenty of warm encouragement, as my teacher did for me. As a teacher, my goal is to inspire curiosity within the student to promote lifelong learning in music, while teaching mastery of the fundamental concepts and techniques.

I am honored to guide my students along their musical journey.

upright piano in a modern vintage style home"Music
washes away
from the soul
the dust of
everyday life."

Berthold Auerbach

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