Posted by: Marie | January 28, 2010

(236) Special students

Post #236
[Private journal entry written on Wednesday, September 30, 2009]

Despite a very busy schedule, things are pretty calm in my life right now.

Teaching piano is becoming more and more a part of my life – and that is a very good thing.

I have found a really cool group of music teachers – they are part of a national organization. The local chapter is based in the next “big” town over from mine (“big” = population 80,000).

Photo by Martin Chen

These teachers all have many, many years of experience (25-65 years of teaching – compared to my one) and they are so willing to share any and all the wisdom they have garnered over the years. A few of them have cleaned out their files of method and music books, and sheet music, and have passed them along to me – some of the material is 100 years old. It is so fun to go through them and look at all the delicate script written by teachers and students from so long ago. It is material I can incorporate into my teaching.

Recently, I participated in the meeting in which we planned out our programs for this upcoming year. I suggested a program on working with special needs students. The other members were very interested in that subject.

So, they have asked a music teacher (not part of our group) who specializes in working with special needs children to give a presentation in March (2010). Also, they would like for one of the members who has worked with special needs children to speak a bit on her experience – and they would like for me to speak on my experience with working with Matt, my 6-year-old autistic student. How incredibly awesome!

Speaking of Matt . . .

I had a lesson with him tonight. At one point, he wandered away from the piano . . . then cycled back around and climbed under the piano (they have a grand piano at his house). At first, I tried to talk him into coming back to the keyboard.

But . . then . . . he invited me to join him under the piano.

My first thought was “no”. But . . then . . . I thought, “Why not?”

So, I climbed under the piano with him.

I didn’t know it was so magical under a piano – it’s kind of like lying under a Christmas tree.

I guess I needed a six-year-old to teach me that.

I discovered I could lie on the floor, on my side, with my head under the piano and my feet under the bench . . . and still reach the keyboard with one hand to play by feel.

So, I played single notes and chords . . . and he described what he was hearing (he has perfect pitch). It was a very nice way to teach – he was able to expend his extra energy by lying on his back, putting his feet in the air and “running” on the underside of the piano – he can “run” and listen and think and talk all at the same time. Amazing.

At one point, his mom walked by and looked rather surprised to see us hanging out under the piano . . . she just shrugged her shoulders and giggled . . .

What a gift to have a piano student who so effortlessly teaches me about life!


  1. This is my favorite post, so far, about your teaching. Brilliant.

    • Thanks, David — it is a “feel good” post for me, also!

      – Marie

  2. Hi Marie,

    That’s a wonderful story :) I think there’s a really fundamental truth in there, about the value of questioning our assumptions about music. And how rewarding it can be to just stop and listen to something in a new way…

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Hi, Christopher –

      Thank you! Music really is such a wonderful and flexible gift!!

      Thanks for stopping by!

      – Marie

  3. This is a great post. It great to see bits of the world that others may rarely see. Good for you and your adventurous spirit.

    • Hi, lostinamaze –

      It is good to hear from you again! I appreciate your kind words!

      – Marie

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: