The Power of Music

“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.” ~ Aristotle

The sorrow…

Some people assume that it is hard to emotionally and personally connect with students during online lessons. I recently had a very powerful and impactful lesson via Facetime. I logged into a lesson with my 10 year old student who I have taught for five years. When she answered, I was surprised to see her in tears. I asked her if she was frustrated with piano or if she was upset with something that happened at school.

She said she wasn’t exactly sure why she was so upset and that it had nothing to do with piano. I immediately changed the subject to try and distract her and then we jumped right into the music as we normally would. I threw in some humor along the way and was sure to be extra positive about her accomplishments.

The turnaround…

Then, out of nowhere, I asked her if I could play my new, short, composition for her (we don’t have to be “productive” every single moment of every lesson. Although, this moment was most likely her most memorable one). I explained the backstory of my composition and talked about some of my difficult emotions that I was expressing through the piece. My piece from my new album Central Star is titled “Moving On”.

Two summers ago, we were in the middle of a move and did not have a solid plan for where we were moving to. This felt unsettling and stressful for this mama of two young children. I composed the piece while staying with my parents and agonizing about what our next step should be. Through the repetitive, relentless left hand pattern, I wanted to convey the feeling of nervousness and uncertainty. As with most things in life, with the tragic, beauty often coincides. I aimed to bring out the beauty as well.

After my impromptu performance, my student loved the piece, gave me some wonderfully insightful feedback (as she always does), and had a big smile on her face. I am continually blown away by her thoughtful comments concerning my compositions. I should mention that she also composes beautiful pieces for solo piano.

The breakthrough…

Finally, we transitioned into her improvisation that we had been working on. This time, I had her experiment with how to express different moods through her improvisation. We made her improv sound joyous, sad, and then pensive. At the end I said, “Do you feel better after playing and listening to all of this music?” Her demeanor was completely different by this point and she told me she felt much better.

I explained to her that that, my friend, is the power of music and that I use music to help me deal with so many different parts of my life. I expressed how happy I was that she has music to turn to when she needs an outlet. I also explained that music helps me when I’m in a ‘difficult’ mood because it takes my mind off of whatever is bothering me and that I’m very grateful for that. The power of music! And the power of a piano teacher! HEART FILLED!

Flowing through Music…

Stories like this have inspired me to create my Piano Flow- Create and Elevate online intensive for this year of quarantine 2020. I want pianists of all levels and ages to access the piano as their own sound spa- their personal oasis that is always there for comfort and security, no matter the circumstances.

I want to empower teachers with the tools to pass down the expressive skills of improvisation, exploration, and composition to their students. I want students of all levels and ages to find their own, creative voice through the instrument. You never know, fostering the craft of creative expression through music might just be the most valuable skill you or your students could ever need.

Growing through Music…

Interested in joining a supportive and nurturing group this summer? The doors are now open for the eight month Piano Flow intensive! Feel free to email with questions, or better yet, let’s connect and chat via phone or Zoom to talk about the summer intensive!

I already have an amazing group of humans registered, and we would love to have you join in on the fun. In the meantime, pop over to the new Piano Flow Facebook Group to get inspired about creativity at the piano, fluid piano technique, optional yoga, and a positive mindset. Hope to connect soon!

Here I am in my happy place~ improvising, seeing what happens next, and going with the flow.

As always, the Little Gems books are available to keep you and your students feeling creatively fulfilled.
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One thought on “The Power of Music

  1. What a beautiful story Paula! Your student is very fortunate to have a teacher who picks up on her sadness’s and then show how her music can self heal!

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