Why do you take piano lessons? As a teacher, why do you give piano lessons? What is the goal? Better yet, what is the purpose?
Some of the students that impress me the most are not the award-winning musical stars, but those who decide to study later in their lives and simply want to make music. I think of an anesthesiologist who studies with a colleague of mine and despite his busy schedule, sets time aside to study and practice piano. In my studio, I have several students from a wide variety of careers taking classes and private lessons and diligently studying and enriching their lives with music.
I want to help my students find their purpose in studying music. Many of them are too young to think about things like this, but for them, I can help guide their parents. It is too easy to turn to a purpose focused on achievement. Sometimes, that is based on festivals and competitions. Some parents come with the "keeping up with the Jones" purpose--their children are taking lessons as this is something their friends do. Others have scholarships in mind--either actual scholarships for musical study, or boosting up a student's resume for college applications.
I'm saddened when a student reiterates what a parent has told them: "You're taking lessons as it will help you with math and sciences and to do better in a career you want to pursue." While it is wonderful and proven through many studies that studying music--particularly piano--has a significant impact on a student's scholastic achievement, I feel sorry if that is the purpose.
Students and their families pay a large amount of money for music lessons, music books, and all of the associated fees. As a teacher, I want both the parent and student to find the real investment they are making: Enrichment in their life.
They are developing a skill that can stay with them for a lifetime. It can impact all parts of their life. They can find simple joy through making music. This is therapeutic and is an investment in our well-being.
Music impacts us. Studying music changes our lives once we discover the true purpose of seeking enrichment. Not awards and achievements, not scholarships...
And really, that is what being an artist is about no matter where or what our career goals are, or where we are on life's journey.
Be an artist. Be enriched. Enrich the lives of others. Repeat...