Do I teach beginners? No way.

My new student, unless she's just arriving from some distant, silent, corner of the universe, doesn't need to be introduced to music, thank you.

Maybe she hums her favorite songs on the way to school. Maybe she picks out tunes by ear on the piano or improvises little "symphonies." If she's older, she may play Christmas carols on the recorder, or sing in the shower, or listen to jazz, or dance.

Music may be a small part of her life, or it may be the best part.

But whatever the specifics, in my field there are no beginners. Anyone from this planet who shows up on my doorstep is already a musician, or at the very least, musical.

And the point is this: In remembering the musical life my new friend already enjoys, I stay clear about my role. I'm not the one with all the answers. My musical experiences, though they may be more sophisticated, are not better or deeper than hers. And my level of commitment, my ways of being with music, not to mention my kinds of music—none of these are necessarily my student's, nor should they be.

And boy, is that ever easy for me to forget.

Having said all that, the opposite is equally true. The way I am with music is precisely what I wish to give: My love for singing and playing, my dedicated-yet-relaxed approach (allright—my sometimes relaxed approach), my creativity, my eclectic tastes—these are some of the ingredients that go into my relationship with music. These are the strengths I help my students find within themselves.

But do I work with beginners? Never. Just fellow musicians.

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