Other than working in my parents’ craft business and doing odd jobs here and there, my first real job was teaching piano. At the urging of my mom and piano-teacher sister, I began teaching on my own when I was a little older than sixteen. The students I taught were mostly people that I knew from church, and many of them were referrals from my sister, whose own piano studio was full.
My piano studio grew to about ten students, and their ages ranged from kindergarten to junior high. Most were homeschool students, but I had a couple of public school students as well. My sister was my teaching mentor, and while I was teaching I had several opportunities to attend college classes and music teacher groups with her.
During my piano teaching stint, I learned a lot from my sister about teaching. Rewards, incentives, deadlines, motivation, creativity, building relationships, letting relationships go, working with parents, enforcing policies… The lessons I had the opportunity to learn at this time were huge for a high schooler.
Teaching piano was a fabulous opportunity for me, but it wasn’t a passion. Perhaps the biggest lesson that I learned from teaching piano was this: in order to teach others, you have to have a passion for the subject yourself. I enjoyed playing the piano, but didn’t have a passion for it. There were parts about teaching piano that I enjoyed, but I didn’t have a burning desire to teach this particular subject.
After a year and a half, I held our final spring recital and quit teaching. I had given my students a quality education, but couldn’t continue trying to motivate my students to do something that I wasn’t motivated to do. I had learned a valuable lesson: in order to transfer passion, you must be passionate. It’s something I’ve remembered for the rest of my life.