The World According to Keitho

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Graduation day

Posted by keithosaunders on June 7, 2010

For the past nine years I have taught beginning piano at a Catholic School in Yonkers, New York.  A sax player friend of mine whose daughter attended the school recommended me for the job.  I was at a slow period in my work so I agreed to give it a try.  To my surprise and delight I ended up enjoying it.  In fact, it was this teaching experience which would eventually inspire me to pursue my undergraduate degree, a goal I accomplished one and a half years ago.

For years I had resisted teaching thinking it would frustrating and boring.  On the contrary.  I found the children to be engaging and enthusiastic, and talented.  And it was this routine — Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 3-6 — that gave shape to my week and framed the year. 

I looked forward to the beautiful fall colors on the residential, tree-lined Yonkers streets, as well as the plethora of flowering trees each spring.  In the winter months the darkness would descend like a blanket on my room barely an hour after my arrival.  During December I enjoyed the Christmas lights that the neighborhood residents put up.  By the time of our annual recital in June my room would be bathed in light the entire day and I would have every window open.  No air conditioning here.

I loved seeing these kids grow up before my eyes; some I have had as early as pre-K.  I have seen them, as if in fast motion, speed through elementary and middle school, to emerge as confident, if not cooler-than-thou high school students.  (my school goes from Pre K-12th grade)

One of my students learned a Bach Minuet.  It was a little too advanced for her, but she had the fortitude of a Samurai and she literally willed herself to accomplish this daunting task.  At recital she played it without one  mistake. 

There was one student who had the same sense of humor as I.  Many lessons we would spend cracking each other up.  She had the kind of laugh — from the belly — that was so infectious that the more she laughed, the more I laughed, and vice-versa. 

One little girl liked to count off her own pieces by saying “One, two…one, two, KICK IT!”  Another student was obsessed with the Darth Vader theme, and still another loved the Pink Panther.  If they liked a song I usually tried to teach it to them. 

Those that I taught my first year are starting college now.  Just as I remember all of my music teachers from my youth I hope that they will remember me.

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One Response to “Graduation day”

  1. Keith, I know exactly how you feel. I was a teacher for 12 years, and it was, by far, the most rewarding job I’ve ever had in my life. And yes, it is amazing watching them grow up before your eyes. Thanks for sharing this part of your life, Bill

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