Piano teacher and studentI have had the joy of having several music teachers in my life — piano teachers, voice (singing) teachers, violin teacher, choir directors, even music examiners. Each, in his or her own way, has added richness to my life and has empowered me.

I still remember the feeling of pride and the boost to my self-confidence when a visitor called on my childhood piano teacher during my lesson, and she insisted that he listen to me play — not that I was a prodigy or anything, but she believed in me, and encouraged me, and thinking of that incident still gives me a feeling of affirmation forty-plus years later. She was a wonderful accompanist — my mother used to say it was as if she breathed the music along with Mum. The confidence and support this gives the musician being accompanied is truly a gift. I have felt it myself, and I have tried to pass it on to those I accompany. Thank you, dear lady, for so very much!

Other teachers, through their teaching, their trust, and sometimes their off-hand remarks, have also empowered me. I remember taking a piano exam (I didn’t start taking exams until I was an adult and went back to piano lessons). The piece I was most confident in did not go well. My over-confidence tripped me up, and I stumbled through the first part before getting back on track. When I came to the end of the piece, the examiner said, “Well, that was a little like driving on ice — but you know how to drive on ice, and you got out of the problem.” That has remained with me as a reminder to keep going, and work to bring things back into control when they go off the rails. Thank you, understanding examiner!

I was a shy child, for whom music became a wonderful way of expressing myself. Without the encouragement of my teachers over the years, I know I would have missed much.

These are some of the reasons I encourage kids — and adults — to become involved in music, or some other facet of the arts. You can become so much more, discover and reach great potential, through music.

But don’t just take my word for it! The Music Empowers Foundation, which gives grants to organizations that promote music education, asked music students to create videos telling what their music teacher had done for them. This one, in particular, touched me. I’d urge you to click this link and watch the video, then come back here, because I have another I want to share with you. Music Teachers Matter.

And from the parenting website Kids In The House, a video in which Fernando Pullum, Director of Performing Arts at The Fernando Pullum Community Arts Center, talks about The Benefits of Exposing Children to Music.

Do you have memories of being encouraged by a music teacher? Some of you may have had the opposite experience — I hope if you’ve had a negative experience that you have had, or will have, a positive, encouraging experience to counteract it.

Here’s to empowerment through music! May it be experienced by all.

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