I always want the best for people. I want them to succeed. If they do, they show everyone else that they can succeed, too. When someone pays me to teach them how to play an instrument, my goal is to make them good at this task. There’s much involved in teaching people how to become musicians.
The first part of the learning process is getting someone totally new to music to believe that they can do it. Usually, on the 2nd lesson, they come back feeling guilty because they might not have practiced or practiced enough. My job is to teach them how to practice during the week following each lesson. It might even include teaching them how to fit practicing into their lives. Once they get this going, it’s a matter of getting them to the first milestone. In the bagpipe world, and in my book, it would be teaching them to play their first tune. The second milestone is to teach them to play Amazing Grace. For all of you “bagpipe experts” out there, the ability to play Amazing Grace is still the number one reason why a man over 40 chooses to play the bagpipe. (Playing bagpipes is on a lot of “bucket lists”.) Whether or not you like the tune, it is clear that it’s still the highest paying bagpipe tune in the world
The problem arises when your students have been with you for a while and stop listening. Sometimes I wonder if I need to raise their tuition to get their attention! All of sudden, they “hijack” the lessons and come in with their own agenda. The warning signs of a hijacked lesson are the things the student says when they sit down to their lesson. “This is what I did this week” is the most common. I am certainly open to any and all ideas and I listen. My goal, nevertheless, is to make them good musicians so that they can play any music for any group they may want to eventually join. I’d really like to see them “fail my way first” as they’re paying me to teach them.
Remember, learning to play the bagpipes is a process. My job is to lead you through the process. If you follow the process and are persistent about the effort, we all win. Isn’t that what we want?