A Lesson is a Happening – Rebecca Pennington


One day, amid his tetrascale warmup, my seven-year-old student Levi paused, turned to me, and said, “Last night there was a family meeting.  My dad told my mom and me that if things didn’t get better around here there’s gonna be a divorce.”

I was speechless.  However, I quickly tried to recover.  I told him that I knew his parents loved him very much and now was a time for us to enjoy our music together.


“A lesson is a happening. Something so special happens that the student ends the lesson different from what he was before.”            —Sam Holland


We see our students (typically) once per week.  Though we know our students well, we really have no idea what is going on in their lives.  We don’t even know what happened immediately before the lesson.  And yet, once a week, they enter into our studio to make music together.  We must be ready to meet the student, wherever he is.


As a piano teacher, we won’t solve all of our student’s problems.  We probably won’t solve any of them.  I wish I could tell you that Levi’s parents worked out their differences and lived happily ever after.  The fact is, I have no idea.  In writing this, I realized that he likely is a teenager now and I haven’t seen him in eight years.


What we can do is take a student from where they are to a completely different place each week.  We can do this through the power of the music that we teach.  We can do this by believing in our students.  We can do this by pushing them every week to be a better musician and a better person than they were the week before.


1 thought on “A Lesson is a Happening – Rebecca Pennington

  1. Boy, this really puts things in perspective! I have been thinking this week of how privileged I feel to have that 30-45 minutes a week with each of my students. They are all so very unique, and the experience of making music with them…there is something just really special about that, because as you said, as teachers, we don’t know too much about what’s going on in their lives, but that little window of time that we have to connect with them via music might just be more important than we realize. Thanks for the reminder!

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