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Kelsey Z.

a view from the stage

June 15, 2007 at 6:34 AM

A week ago my nerves and patience and work as a teacher was put to the test. I had my own studio recital. The actual recital length wasn't all that long (about 45 minutes or so) but it was difficult trying to stay on top of keeping violins tuned, consoling those who were feeling less than confident and all the while trying to not let myself freak out about having to accompany so many of them. They all did so well though! As a final selection for the recital I opted to play a piece to show that hard work pays off. As I set it up, thanked everyone and wished them well and congratulated them on all their hard-work this past year it was hard to hold myself together. Reality began to sink that this was the last moment I would ever see some of these kids I've known and taught for so many years. Suddenly all those hugs at the end of each lesson, all those hand scrawled cards and pictures on my bulletin board, all those sneezes, coughs, exciting stories from school or about the kid who everybody hates, suddenly, suddenly I realised it was all going to end. These kids had learned to trust me enough and be at ease with me to the point that one of my youngest students walked in a few weeks ago with a very excited and proud look on her face and announced to me that she was "pregnant! And I've already felt two kicks!" They grow up so fast these days...having babies at the age 5. But I have realized that this wonderful connection I've had with so many students these past several years, though it will continue with some the majority I may never see or hear again and that is really a big deal. If any of my students are reading this, I know I've told you in your cards and at your lessons and at the recital, but here it is again. You guys (and girls!) are all so special and you all have a wonderful talent, be it violin, piano or something else! I'm going to miss you all so very much (I already do and lessons aren't even officially over for most of you) and I know that I will think of you often in my own studies this year and that it's thanks to being able to work with you guys every week that I know, more than ever, that I need and want to go to university and study music. I know some of you don't understand why I have to go but hopefully when you're older you will, because of your own experiences, see why I have had to say goodbye.

Trust, love and friendship when combined into a relationship with anyone - a student, parents, teacher etc - is an incredible one. Right now I'm one of the luckiest people alive because I've been able to share in relationships like that with my students these past years. Best of luck to you, all of my students - may your persistance and passion give you the wings to make your dreams soar.

From Laurie Niles
Posted on June 16, 2007 at 4:55 AM
Oh I know, Kelsey. The end of the school year reduces me to tears these days. When you are a teacher, or when you are a student, or when you have kids in school, it's a time of change. People move, teachers change, and certain constants in one's daily or weekly life just evaporate, like that. I taught my year-end, last class of first-graders today. When I showed up at their door to take them to their last class with me, they all rushed to me and hugged me, all at once! One girl was crying! I said, "Stop, you guys, I feel like a Teletubbie, BIG HUG!"

What is it about the passage of time that is so sad, and what is it about growth that is so bittersweet?

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on June 16, 2007 at 6:00 AM
Kelsey, that was beautifully written. I know just how you and Laurie feel. I become so very attached to my students and, sometimes, their parents. I didn't expect the bonds to be so strong when I started teaching. My students are like extended family. The feelings are especially intense for me because I have no family of my own. My students have been blessings to me in more ways than they will ever know.
From Linda Lerskier
Posted on June 16, 2007 at 4:11 PM
Beautifully written. Loved the touch of humor!
From Yixi Zhang
Posted on June 18, 2007 at 12:14 AM
It’s very a small world and I bet you’ll see your students again somewhere in future. Just imagine one day this 5-year old girl becomes a mother and brings her 5-year old child to your door for violin lessons, wouldn’t that be something!
From Robert Berentz
Posted on June 18, 2007 at 7:02 PM
Children do listen, do learn. Just a casual comment (let's hope positive) can change a child's life.

I commented off the cuff to twins, brother and sister, just as they were entering High School. "Why don't you run track." Four years later the parents saw me and announced that their boy just took the 100 yard dash at state and set a record.

As a teacher, think of the sum total of what you have "planted" in your students; awsome.

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