This college essay was written by my former student, Matthew Chen. As a teacher, you never know who and how you touch your students. I didn’t know about this essay until he brought it to me as he was leaving for college. I was quite touched as you might imagine. The gift of music is something quite precious.
“To be completely honest, in the midst of my brainstorming for this essay topic, I began to worry, as I could not think of anything to write about. My life isn’t revolved around some sob story. I have never had to deal with the hardships of financial struggles. The Community in which I was raised was pretty ideal. I have been blessed with a loving family, a great group of friends, a great church family, food on the table, and a roof over my head. Because all of these things have been given to me without any effort from myself, it was difficult for me to come up with ways that these parts of my community have shaped me as a person without coming across as artificial or cliched. For that reason, I have chosen to focus on a single individual who I consider to be part of the community in which I was raised and who has had a profound impact on my life.
It was the first week back. In the room at which my careless, little six-year-old-self sat, there stood a piano, CD’s and books of music of all genres, awards and plaques, and of course, my teacher, Miss Elise, an individual who somehow had the ability to be both as gentle as a dove and as strict as a drill sergeant. But of course, I noticed none of that. In my mind, I was already back at home, playing MarioKart on my Nintendo DS, or at the Astros game that night.
It was a sudden callback to reality, when I heard Miss Elise command me to play my E Major scale. Knowing he hadn’t practiced on bit, the mischievous 6-year-old lied and said that he had practiced as hard as he could, be needed more time to understand how to play it. My teacher nodded. That one little white lie quickly became the driving narrative of my young piano career. For years, I continued in this cycle, faking my way through weekly lessons. Hard work and perseverance were two things that school had no taught me (thus far), and it showed in my lack of ability to sit down and consistently improve my piano skills. As patient as she was, over the uears Miss Elise began to grow less and less pleased with my inability to practice consistently. All the while, she continued to challenge me with more and more difficult music. As my music grew more and more complex, it became no longer possible to fake my way through the weeks. Eventually, I began to dread the day of piano lessons; the day farthest away from a lesson-a good day. The day before a lesson was doomsday.
All of his boiled down into one lesson when I was 11 years old. Miss Elise had finally had enough of my lazy work ethic and presented me with an ultimatum: either I change my work ethic and start practicing consistently and effectively, or I would be dismissed from her studio. Face with this choice, there were many factors that I had to weigh. I had noticed that many of my friends around me had begun to flourish in their musical talents, and I became frustrated that my piano skills and musical ability still seemed to be stuck at square one. On top of that, my parents had become unhappy with the amount of money they had put into my piano lessons while seeing little to not return value. Eventually, with the help of Miss Elise, I decided that I wasn’t going to let all the time and money spent on piano go to waste-I was going to work harder than I knew how to. My piano teacher pushed me harder than ever before, giving me college-level music, setting up daily practice logs to keep me accountable, and making me constantly listen to the music I was playing until I could hum both movements of Debussy’s Arabesque* in my sleep. Gone were the long nights spent on my Nintendo DS or Nintendo Wii,. Replaced by hours upon hours of sitting on the piano stool, trying to make up for all the time lost. Soon, I began to notice some gradual improvements, which eventually grew into major advancements in my skill and techniques. It didn’t just stop at piano, though. The motivation to succeed and time management skills my piano teacher instilled in me soon infected my schoolwork, my other extracurricular, and the rest of my life in general. My piano experience and my piano teacher helped to cultivate a new side of myself that I had never seen before-a hardworking, self-motivated individual who had the drive and will to succeed. It was this drive that helped me to emerge from the highly-competitive high school I attended relatively unscathed and ready for the challenges that await me in college. In many ways, I owe a lot to my piano teacher, Miss Elise, and the piano curriculum that she put me through. As an integral part of my environment, she and her program have shaped me to be a hardworking, self-motivated individual who previously might’ve never made it out of high school.”
*Debussy’s Arabesque is a single piece of work. I do believe that the piece he was trying to remember was a Haydn Sonata.
CLASSES AND PROGRAMS
Music for Little Mozarts is a wonderful program for students aged 4-6. Students take a fantastic journey with Mozart Mouse, Beethoven Bear and all of their friends to discover the wonders of piano lessons. An Adult or teen must participate with the student.
Recreational Piano Lessons for Adults is what most adults want, so we are here to please. These are on-going lessons throughout the year, with a total of 38 lessons. Students will learn how to play lead lines and understand bass styles, understand chord structures, and just have fun!
Private Piano Lessons for those who like one-on-one instruction. These are on-going lessons throughout the year, with a total of 38 lessons. Students will learn how to play the piano and so much more, including theory and music history. Times are subject to openings.
Introduction to Piano Lessons The Piano Curriculum Series is now offering a six (6) week course for those who would like to explore piano lessons. Ages 6-96 may apply. Keyboard or piano required. Materials included. Lessons will be 45 minutes twice a week. Available year-round.
Contact Elise directly at email@example.com