A student approached me at my school about five months ago; I’ll call him “Mr. M.” He wanted me to teach him to play guitar.
Now, I’d never taught someone to play guitar before – not really. I mean, I’d had small groups of students in an after-school class for eight or nine weeks, meeting once every seven days, but that was the extent of my musical teaching experience. I put Mr. M off, telling him that it would have to be approved with his parents before I agreed to any such type of undertaking.
His mom contacted me later that day, indicating her excitement that I’d be teaching her son to play—if I were indeed willing.
I won’t lie; I felt a trifle overwhelmed at the prospect and sorely contemplated telling Mr. M that I was too busy to teach a private guitar lesson each week. Considering my then-current schedule, fitting a 30-45 minute session in each week was going to be a stretch; as Bilbo Baggins so eloquently put it, it would be “like butter scraped over too much bread.”
However, I instead began to think of lessons which could extend into the coming year; the easiest and most common chords and strumming patterns, and easy songs I could teach him that were not only a little bit corny (just to keep it real), but some that were pretty cool, too.
I’ve been a music teacher now since around Christmastime.
There’s something magical about every Tuesday afternoon when school lets out, and ‘Mr. M’ runs to get his guitar when I arrive at his house. He is always anxious to show me what he’s practiced for the week, and I’m amazed just how far he’s come over these last few months, when before this he knew nothing.
Each week I watch this boy get better, and I think of what is being left behind. There will come a time when I will step out of his life. He will move on to a better—more advanced—teacher, but the foundation of what he’s learned will always be there. There is something about this type of bond that cannot be bought. It cannot be purchased with all the gold in the world. There is a feeling that cannot be created in any other way when one instills a portion of oneself into the life of another.
Dare I admit that Tuesdays with Mr. M are my favorite day of the week?
Because they are.
I’m thankful that a young boy had the courage to ask his previous teacher for something most students wouldn’t ever think to do.
Tuesdays with Mr. M are always melodious—even on those weeks when he doesn’t practice as much as he should have.
Click here if you'd like
to hear us playing together:
Just kidding, that wasn't us really playing, that was a clip from the movie August Rush. We're not quite that good yet...