Silence of the Guitars

Sunday 18th January.

I mentioned in a previous post that I have been teaching at the same school for 9 years. I started out one day a week, then two and for a couple of years I’ve been there three days a week, fully booked from 2 to 5:30. Last year was a bit quieter – I had four open places.

The head of the music department has gone on early retirement.  She was the one who phoned and offered me the position, and I always felt we had a good working relationship.

Normally the beginning of the year is somewhat chaotic, with new pupils phoning and me juggling timetables and scribbling madly on bits of paper. I’ve even had people phoning in November for a place in the new year. Lessons officially start tomorrow, and I’ve had the grand total of one call – someone wanted piano lessons with the possibility of guitar as a second instrument.

Things do change, and maybe I’m heading towards the end of my teaching career. I’ve had a great time with something that wasn’t planned in the first place. I trained as shorthand typist in pre-computer days. The first electric typewriter I’d ever seen was the day I started work in 1973. That was a hoot. Manual typewriters need the keys struck firmly – you are powering the machine with your fingers. Electric machines with repeating keys? I had a LOT of lines that were all one letter. And this meant starting again. It may have been an electric typewriter, but it had an actual piece of paper in there, and there is a limit to how much erasing one can do before disintegration occurs.

Maybe it’s time. I’m having problems with arthritis, particularly in my left hand. For a guitarist that’s your fretting hand, and if you can’t press the strings quickly or clearly enough, and you can’t get the stretches anymore, you can’t play much past beginner pieces. It’s difficult to teach if you can’t demonstrate properly.

My doctor has been muttering about operations, but I have very little trust in orthopedic specialists. Several family members have had neck, back and hand operations. None have been what I would call a complete success. I’d rather stick with the problems I have, than perhaps end up with a whole new set.

Tuesday 20th January

Some pupils haven’t come back, and there have been no new pupils at all. Being a private teacher at the school, I am somewhat out of the loop. I only come in on the afternoons I teach. Ever had that feeling that something is going on and everyone knows about it but you?

About notewords

Guitarist, Music teacher, Writer
This entry was posted in Challenges, Guitar, Health, history, humor, Humour, Learning, Life, music, Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

25 Responses to Silence of the Guitars

  1. foguth says:

    It sounds like karma might be leading you in a new direction and that is almost always a good thing in the long run. (though it can be quite terrifying in the short term)
    I concur – avoid surgery! It helps in some ways, but not all. Due to an accident, I have a steel rod and 5 screws in my right wrist and that is not conducive to a lot of things – I haven’t played the piano in years and while typing is easy, for some reason, eating with a fork or spoon is not, thus, I am veering toward being a south-paw.

    • notewords says:

      I think you’re right. Change is coming, one way or the other.
      I love surprises – as long as I know about it first… It’s a pity that life doesn’t seem to work like that.

  2. You know me as zenkatwrites, but I also blog about food issues. You might read my post on how my mom (93) and I both dealt with arthritis.

  3. My word of the year last year was “change”. I felt something was coming, and wanted to mentally prepare for it. It is never easy, but it can lead to positive new directions (even if for a while you have an entire line of all one letter).

  4. ckendsley says:

    Having done the private music teaching thing myself, I can attest that it waxes and wanes depending on a variety of factors. Take the extra time you have to work on other things – you never know where they will take you.

    And I second the motion of NOT getting surgery. It seems to cause more problems than it solves in the cases I’ve seen. There are plenty of stretches and exercises that can help arthritis and repetitive motion issues without going that route. And a lighter teaching schedule will likely help, too.

    As for feeling kept out of the loop, maybe the real question is – Do you REALLY want to be kept in? It’s always better to make a move on your own terms than being forced onto a path by someone else. Maybe it’s time for you to pick the next leg of your journey. Whatever is to come for you, I hope it’s joyful.

    • notewords says:

      Pupil numbers do seem to go through cycles, but this is somewhat drastic. I am starting to feel it’s time to move on, or at least make plans in that direction. At least I have two days off each week now. 😉

  5. Absolutely! Those are usually times when God is teaching me to wait on Him. The wait is well worth it! He will open new doors as you trust Him. I know this is a bit off the subject but I have been concerned about Churches replacing hymnals with big screens where the lyrics are displayed. I don’t know about you but I learned to follow notes as we shared hymnals during the singing portion of the service. So many children sing what they hear. (Which is how I play piano. Ugh!) I wonder if there is a market for teaching sight reading? I know most schools teach music and have choirs but what about the children who miss out? Parents may be interested in having their children tutored in music. Just a thought. Whatever door opens, I pray it is a joyful one.

    I remember the transition from manual typewriters to electric ones. What fun!

  6. fabrickated says:

    I don’t suppose there is a loop to be out of. It is more likely that no-one has considered it carefully and they haven’t bothered to communicate, even to say they “don’t know”. The retirement of your friend has broken a chain. Sorry this has left you feeling that, having made yourself available, they cannot provide the students. But as others say – you have so many abilities and now may be the time to try another direction. And I would agree that surgery is not yet sophisticated enough to restore mobility, so I would go with rest, good food, and sensible exercise.

    • notewords says:

      Thanks. I think my friend’s retirement has a lot to do with it. She was the one that took care of all the details, and made it look easy! It’s a small school, but a few years ago the orchestra went to an international competition in Vienna and come in third.

  7. Clairinette says:

    Sorry to read that. Maybe it will be for the better. Good luck.

  8. All of the above, dear Notewords. Be as well and relaxed as possible while you can. Typing? Oh, dear yes. Did some years’ of that and taught it too – what larks when things change.

  9. annj49 says:

    Awe, that’s a bit discouraging for you! I hope things will improve and you will get busy……

    Interesting to read about the typewriter. Gosh, those things were frustrating, when I think about it! 😉 there was, however, something fairly satisfying in the clicketty clacketty noise of the keys, though I never typed fast enough to really make that noise 😉 😛

  10. I believe there is most certainly a connection in your friend’s retirement and the number of students you have. There may be an information or organization vacuum right now. Hang on and give it time until they get the kinks worked out in the transition. Another semester or year will show if there really has been a change. You can still teach without playing much. You don’t know what child might need you. I have a long-time who does the same thing – the kids love her and she loves teaching them.

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