Sunday, April 5, 2009

Provenance and Preconceptions

We had visitors to Scrollworks@Greencup yesterday.
The first was a classically trained pianist from the Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory. She is considering teaching for us. We always advise new teachers to come to a Saturday session of free lessons to see if they can handle that teaching environment.
This woman frankly admitted she was shocked. At her conservatory students were taught in a private room with a grand piano. I pointed out that all the equipment in the room has to fit in my Honda Element at the end of the day. She asked how it was possible to learn with the cacophony of multiple lessons on many instruments all happening at the same time. I told her I didn't know, but that it worked. Out of the 40 to 60 students we see each week at Greencup, only a handful are new. I don't think we'd get so many returning students if they weren't learning. She shook her head.
She said that a keyboard isn't the same as a piano. I responded that it worked fine for students that might have no access to an instrument. Better a keyboard than nothing! She was taken aback and said she would not take students who had no piano at home. I told her that for many that we teach, an instrument at home is not possible. We do our best to lend them instruments or to give them practice time at our locations.

As we talked, the students streamed up the stairs and were guided to teachers. It was so noisy that Craig had to draw his circle of cellists close so they could hear. Our Russian visitor watched in wonder. Finally she said that it was obvious from the crowd that there was a tremendous need for what we were offering and that she would consider volunteering to teach a couple of hours each week. She said she wanted to figure out how we were making it work.

Later, another couple came by. They are music majors at the University of South Alabama and we have asked them to teach for us this summer. Having heard much about what we were doing already, they were eager to get involved. Their questions were not about how Scrollworks was possible, but more about how MUCH Scrollworks is possible. The contrast was striking but not surprising. Part of it is generational, I think, and part environmental.

I am excited to get all these people involved, no matter their provenance or preconceptions. What is important is a passion for music and a desire to share that with others, especially those who otherwise do not have ready access to instrument instruction. All of them will be changed by the experience and that will be good for our community.

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