Students teaching students is an awesome combination
Within the last year, my family has been blessed to find two students who have incredible musical and artistic talent and are open to sharing these talents with us.
Last summer, my boys expressed an interest to learn to play the piano. Knowing that this could be a battle if they didn’t like it and therefore the idea of fighting to bundle the boys up and deliver them on time to someone’s home for their lessons had no appeal, we set out to look for someone who could come to our home. I searched for a number of months to find someone in the neighborhood who might be able to do this. No luck – until I saw an advertisement posted on the community bulletin board at our local grocery store – music high school graduate interested in teaching students in your home for $15 for half an hour!! The answer to my prayers!
We invited Jennifer to come to our house one afternoon in the summer to meet our boys and have a trial run. Our eldest son fell in love with his almost 6 foot tall, long blond hair, beautiful piano teacher right away. While getting him to practice can be a bit of a challenge, he loves to sit down and get to work when Jennifer arrives. He seems to be quite comfortable learning to play. Our youngest who is five is learning to play as well. While he isn’t the most studious in the world, he does enjoy the lessons. After 5 months – there has hardly ever been a compliant about it being piano night! I attribute this to finding a young, friendly student who interacts well with children teaching in our home – a comfortable, stress-free environment.
Our youngest son we call The Artist. He LOVES to do art – drawing, painting – overall creating. I thought perhaps I could duplicate the successful formula we had discovered for piano but with an arts student. So I called the local high school – Mayfield – which has a highly regarded arts program to find out if they had a student they could recommend that might be interested in teaching after school – kind of like an art buddy. But no reply from anyone at the school. (I realize that this isn’t necessarily part of their top ten things to do but I was hopeful that community relations would be stronger – I guess not). I then turned to my network of moms. One of my eldest son’s friends’ moms told me about a great student teacher who taught out of her home. She sent me her website – http://www.shannonwalker.ca. I knew from our first email exchange that I had found a kindred spirit. Shannon provided great detail and tremendous exuberance in her emails. I was hopeful that my little artist would bond with her as well.
Today my Little Artist had his first class with Shannon in her basement studio. I knew he was nervous as he had said earlier in the week – what if I can’t do it? But within the first 10 minutes of his class, he whispered in my ear “This is awesome” and his grin continued for the next 90 minutes of class. While Shannon had 2 other students in her studio working on painting projects she gave her new student warm attention. Her teaching style is completely in tune with him. She had him choose a picture that he wanted to draw (Maxxor from Chaotic), printed it for him and set him up at the drawing table with a blank paper of his own, one for her and a print out of the picture he had chosen. On her piece of paper, she drew Maxxor’s facial outline in a few simple lines. Little Artist did the same on his piece of paper. Shannon broke down the picture of Maxxor in stages – talking him all the way through it. It didn’t take him long to try to be a perfectionist – erasing lines that he wasn’t happy with, trying different approaches to see what he thought looked right. While he became tired after an hour, Little Artist wanted to keep going and finish the picture – which he did after 90 minutes. He is so proud of it.
As we walked out of Shannon’s studio, Little Artist turned to me and said – I want to combine two words together to describe what that was like – Fun and Fantastic. It was Funtastic, mommy. I can’t wait to go back.
Music to my ears that my Little Artist is happy and we have found a teacher he likes.
We are so impressed with these students, their artistic skills and their great ability to share with others. Their teaching styles are so friendly and warming that the students embrace them right away. We encourage other students to share their gifts and parents to accept students as teachers.