Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Question Authority (Please!)

I love it when my violin students ask me questions. Actually, I love it when my own kids ask me questions, too, within reason. ("Are we there yet?", "Why do I have to?", and "Why can't I have candy before breakfast, stay up all night, and swing from the chandelier?" don't count.) When they care enough to dig deeper, when there's more participation than just doing what I say or answering questions, I get really excited.

I admit, I often struggle when the questions start. I might be ten minutes behind in my teaching schedule with the next student waiting. I might be trying to read a recipe or a book. Sometimes I am literally in a conversation with someone else when the burning questions start. It's hard for the dreamer side of me that wants to sit and talk and explore for hours to fit with the mother/teacher side of me that is responsible for things like schedules and scales and food and proper bedtimes. But then again, if I can make the switch from Martha-mode to Mary-mode, I usually find both aspects of my life replenished.

When I lived in Chicago, I taught violin at two different schools, one of which was more than an hour away from where I lived. Every Thursday I drove through Chicago traffic worrying if I had enough change for tolls and enough gas in the tank, taught from 1:30 until 9:45 with a short break for dinner and then drove home. Even though I love teaching I find that much one-on-one time exhausting. But I went home exhilarated just about every week, because my last student was a 12 or 13 year-old boy who asked questions. He gave me all my energy back just by being curious. I hope he still has that passion.

Sometimes I think all I want is for things to go smoothly. For everybody to cooperate. But oh, if that's all I ever got I think everybody would be missing out! Mary and Martha have a lot to teach each other, I think.

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