A “Know it All” Reprise

Another turn of the wheel,  a year older and trustingly wiser.  Perhaps its the perpetual entrance of a birthday that brings a deluge of crowded memories vying for their place in the dusty archives where we store our experiences. Recently my reminiscing has circled and landed on the years that I’ve lived and played music. I meditated about when I first came to New York back in 1978 and started working with the numerous musicians who would eventually be pivotal teachers in the development of my style and perception of music. All the performances, all the musicians.

Never once was there an outward indication of a student-teacher relationship. Always my lessons were dialogues. And I’ve never thought that there wasn’t anything I could learn from another musician or singer. Of course, I wish that the last statement was completely true, but in reality, I have felt (still do on occasion)  that I know all there is to know when it comes to insight and playing music.

I’ve been gifted with two students, that have galvanized me and opened my eyes to the hidden secrets of being a teacher. Invariably I thought being a teacher was fairly a one-way process, with some occasional feedback from the less timid student of the group. I was wrong  and I ask myself,  why didn’t I see it until now, especially considering I’m a strong advocate of progressive education. I mean, I’ve read Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Friere.

The funny thing about theory, until it’s applied consistently with recognizable results, it’s only theory. In short, there is always something you can learn from every single person you meet. I shall limit my blog this time around to just these two students. I’ll save the “every single person” for next time.

The ultimate students. What do I mean by ultimate? They simply have an unshakable, intense hunger to learn.

They want to excel in music. They begin their lesson thinking, what can I do with this information that I’m discovering and how can I put it to the best use. They absorb, simulate and allow themselves to look for the authenticity inside themselves. They consider their lessons, apprehending that art is genuinely about finding you and not being afraid to be vulnerable and open to expressing it.

The results: Amazing Growth. I’m sharing the email sent to me a few weeks ago from these two students, the major catalysts for my new found penetration of teaching. In the email, I’m complimented as being a great teacher, but the real story I can’t take the credit. Perhaps 10 percent of it, maybe. The 90 percent, however is all theirs. They worked hard, stayed focused on doing the work diligently. Now my acumen of the terminology so often spoken by a powerful and effective teacher is longer wasted on me.

Better yet, it is my own education that has been given a vital shot in the arm. The elevation that I feel, the fueling of my appetite to learn more, to delve into the sharing of what we all know.

What better lesson to have at this time in my life than to conceive that teaching is unquestionably dialogue and that it is a two-way street. What greater victory can I have in life than to collaborate and witness the valuable success of those who truly strive toward their goals.

Much respect and admiration for Anita and Pim Samson.

Saturday, September 14, 2013:

Hi Veronica!

I just couldn’t resist writing you to tell you about yesterday Friday evening at the Jazz Club! Because after you put so much of your time and energy in me and Pim on Monday, the success was beyond my expectation! I want to thank you for that!

A picture of the performance I do not have this time, because Pim couldn’t take pictures while playing the bass all the time, but the performance really went great! Wim the sax player, who organizes the jam sessions, told me that he was very impressed because of my progress and especially about my performance of Doxy! Then he invited me to be in the official program of pro’s playing at the 2014 Summer Delft Jazz Festival with my own band! That then will be piano and vocals by me, Pim at the bass and Wim at the sax. So, we now will have to work very hard, not only on the music but we also must have a CD ready by that time, because all these bands have their own CD’s in case the audience wants to buy.

Then there was a very old lady with her husband, and they danced all evening, and after the show the lady came to me to thank me for the very pleasant evening that I gave them and telling me that she so much loved my singing and piano playing! Wow I was so very honored!

Veronica I do not know what else to say, but Thank You my Great Teacher! Without You, this would not have happened to me!

To be victorious in our life

One’s true worth as a human being is not a matter of outward appearance or title but derives rather from the breadth of one’s spirit. Everything comes down to faith and conviction. It is what is in one’s heart and the substance of one’s actions that count.

Daily Encouragement by Daisaku Ikeda

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