My Teacher’s Tarantula
True horror stories from the field
I collect stories about why people quit music lessons. I promise, I couldn’t even begin to make some of these horror stories up. They are all too often things that we as teachers or parents have done that turn youngsters off and inadvertently make them quit lessons.
Recently a woman told me that in school she had been in a serious recorder quartet that she loved and was good at. But she had a 2-hour weekly lesson that she simply dreaded. Why? Because at every lesson her teacher brought out his hairy, 3-inch tarantula that crawled around on his hands during the entire lesson. Her stomach knotted up even as she told the story 35 years later!
That story is just so weird it’s hard to explain! But it illustrates that as parents we need to watch and listen to our children – especially if they are avoiding something – as to what the real story is that they might not be comfortable telling us. Why couldn’t this woman just say, “MOM! He’s got a freaking tarantula, that terrifies me!” Why couldn’t I tell mine, “I can’t stand the way my teacher smells”?
Maybe he thought it was fun. Maybe I had a sensitive nose. The point is that music lessons are extremely personal, intimate in a way, and can be emotionally intense. If your student seems to be avoiding them, try to find out what might be going on that has nothing to do with music-making!
It is critical for any student to make a good match with someone so that they will want to spend this special time with them. At The Shedd we encourage each student to try out a couple of different teachers – and pick the one that works best for that student. Students don’t have to articulate why or defend their choice. Just come and be happy in their lessons.
And I promise – no tarantulas!!!