If you were raised by a professional musician or even someone who knows how to play an instrument competently (or both), and you grew up learning an instrument (or multiple instruments) too, you probably know The Cardinal Rule of Music: Thou shalt not teach one's own children music. And especially piano.
I grew up in just such a household. I began piano lessons in second grade, violin in fourth, and trumpet in fifth. My violin career ended around 9th or 10th grade, I played trumpet through my senior year of high school, and I still enjoy being a piano hack some 30+ years later (having peaked in college). My parents never once gave me a lesson. Marie played piano, had a brief career as a Suzuki violinist, and played trumpet well into college (as well as becoming a vocal music major) while Katherine played piano for a few years and trombone through high school. As far as I know, our parents never gave them a lesson, either. It's possible we were just too beastly. Or maybe it was this, eloquently stated in an excerpt from an old article in the Chicago Tribune about giving your own kids piano lessons:
"Here are the conditions under which this would work," says clinical psychologist Wendy Mogel, author of "The Blessing of a Skinned Knee" (Scribner). "One: If this girl is begging for lessons. Two: If the parent has been a professional piano teacher for a minimum of five years. Three: If the mother has a very special trick she knows for helping children get the hang of the metronome. Four: If there will be no other child related to the parent in the house at the time of the lesson. Or any pets. And the parent is willing to turn off her phone — including vibrate — during the course of the lessons. Five: If the child is willing to do extra chores or pay the mother for the lesson."
In other words, it probably isn't going to work.
"You're taking your children's musical future into your hands," Mogel says. "And the circumstances we live in make it harder than ever for a parent and a child to sit and concentrate and do work together in a patient, respectful, skillful, impersonal way."
My own piano teachers—Mrs. Troyer, Mrs. Hickey, and Dr. Anne ___ (can't remember her last name for the life of me)—were the textbook definition of what it looks like to teach piano in a patient, respectful, skillful, and impersonal way. Except maybe Dr. Anne wasn't that patient, as she often called my dorm room freshman year before 7:30 am to tell me to order some piece of sheet music (Shauna no doubt loved that)... but I digress. Beloved Mrs. Young was in charge of Dillow Girl Piano Instruction from 2009-2013, and got an A+ in all areas, including an A++ in patience.
Except now here's the thing: piano teachers are hard to come by where we live. As in, the recommended names are full up. Maybe less hard to come by in Shreveport, but when you factor in the cost of lessons (well over double what we paid in Wyoming) and time (minimum 30 minutes drive each way) and gas (you don't even want to know what our gas bill is for driving the gymnastics taxi to and from Shreveport six hours a week) and motivation (no one really wants to drive to Shreveport on the day off from driving to Shreveport) our piano lesson options are as follows this year:
• don't do them
• break The Cardinal Rule of Music and home-piano
Neither Maddie nor Gracie want to quit piano at this time, and Bridget has been begging for lessons for upwards of two years now. Normally I wouldn't bend the start-in-second-grade rule, but Bridget is living in the world of extenuating circumstances this year, so we have agreed to give her a shot.
With me as their teacher.
All signs point to a limited stay in Louisiana, probably just a year—maybe a little longer—so after much hand-wringing and goal-setting and taking-it-seriously, we are going to give it a go. We are 3/3, one week in, with lesson times set on the calendar and as much distraction eliminated as possible. All I have to do while breaking The Cardinal Rule of Music is not screw it up until we locate a professional once again. I mean, it's only our children's musical futures in my hands. Wish us luck.