Finding Your Niche with Music Lessons
The father of one of my guitar students spoke with me today after his son's lesson. I'll call his son "Sam." The dad expressed how happy he was with Sam's progress on the guitar and how important it is to him. He told me that when Sam likes doing something, he really latches onto it, and he's done this with guitar.
Sam is on the spectrum. He takes regular classes in school with some extra support. Last year, he told me that he doesn't always do well in school because he gets distracted too easily. (Sam is one of the smartest kids I've ever worked with.) On the other hand, he said he feels proud of how he's doing on the guitar.
Sam is an excellent guitar student. He's going to be entering 6th grade soon, but he's right up there with my teen and adult students. My teaching style is easy and laid back, which seems to suit Sam's needs. In private lessons, Sam is able to concentrate more easily, and he is thriving. It feels good to be able to create an environment in which Sam feels at ease.
Sam has enrolled in a guitar class for his upcoming 6th grade year. I told his dad that he might be surprised at how far ahead of the class he's going to be. His dad agreed and is hoping that the teacher recognizes this and finds a way to meet Sam's level.
I also told Sam's dad that this could be a major confidence booster at school. When I was young, I found my place in the world when I started playing trombone in school band. I was a major band and choir geek in high school. While a lot of teenagers struggle with figuring out what they're going to do after they graduate, I knew from the age of 11 that I was going to be a musician. Trombone, singing, and guitar have played a huge role in shaping my identity, and I hope this will be the case for Sam.
I'm not sure when to tell Sam that I think he has the potential to be a really great musician. I want to encourage him, but I don't want him to feel pressured into it. I told Sam's dad as much. At some point, Sam will report how he's doing in his 6th grade guitar class. That might be a good time to tell him what I think of his potential.
Whether Sam ultimately decides to become a professional musician or not is beside the point. Of course I would get great satisfaction if Sam became a pro and even surpassed me, but what I really wish for Sam is that he is able to feel confident at school and in life, and that his music lessons might have something to do with that.