#MusicMonday: Reflecting on 15 years of music, teaching, and growth

In 2012, I started tutoring two girls ahead of their exams. Admittedly, I thought it was an easy way to earn some money.

What I didn’t realise is that it would eventually turn into a part-time job for me.

In the fall of 2013, Aria Music Studio welcomed me back not only as a student, but as a teacher. With every lesson that I taught, I gained a little more insight into what it was like to be a piano teacher – what it was like to be Andrea, my mentor, teacher, and friend.

The years that followed wouldn’t be without their challenges. I now understood what my teachers must’ve felt when I came to a lesson unprepared. I had to juggle my school and personal life with my teaching schedule and the preparations that came with that. I had to grow in patience – something that I admittedly struggle with. At the same time, I was preparing for my own teaching exam, and at many points, I questioned whether or not I was good enough. Many parents and families entrusted their children with me for a period of time each week. There would be days where I wondered if I was doing the right thing, and if I really was able to give my students the best music experience that they could get.

There definitely have been failures, but I can also say with certainty that the experience working with these students have given me an opportunity to grow as well. 6 years, 15 families and hundreds of lessons later, I’ve been able to meet so many incredible people and leave a small mark on their lives. And for that, I am so grateful for the trust, patience, and support that the students and the parents have given me.

Fiat voluntas tua / Let your will be done. 📸: @ewbphotography

A post shared by Rachel Clare (@rchlcwng) on

As I shared earlier, music is really a great gift to be given. It is an opportunity to not only gain a tangible skill, but to grow in so many other aspects of life. When my parents started me in piano lessons – in 2003 – my only goal was to be able to play “Part of Your World” from The Little Mermaid. I didn’t think that it would turn into such a huge part of my life.

The tangible skills came with time.  Eventually, I could read notes quickly and almost on autopilot. When you really think about it, written music is like some kind of code – and over time, it was a code that I cracked. I became coordinated (!!!) and found a way to transfer my understanding of this code to my fingers and somehow make an instrument sing.

But it’s the other outcomes that came with learning music that I’m really thankful for. Learning about hard work, determination, constant practice, working under pressure, failure and success, taking feedback and critique, exam taking… all of these things would have eventually turned up in my life without music. But through it, I was exposed to these things at such a young age. Though it was challenging back then, I look back and know that without it, I wouldn’t be where I am today. And on top of all this, the ability to appreciate music in its various forms and genres, and sharing it back with others – these are bonuses.

As such, I do thank my parents for affording me this opportunity. Piano, as an activity, is not a cheap endeavour. The lessons are just a start. But there are also the purchase of the instruments, books, and then other things like competitions and exams. That’s a lot of money that could have been spent on other things, but my parents chose to invest in my musical future as well as my sisters’ .

I owe much of my growth and success to Andrea. She saw something in me that I didn’t know that I had when I first started out. Even as I went through my exams and got frustrated with myself, she didn’t give up or quit on me. This patience and positivity is something that I hope I was able to reflect back onto other students, because without it, I probably wouldn’t be here.

The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once said that “without music, life would be a mistake.” With every year, I have watched students grow in their ability and musicality. I’ve seen growth in Aria Music Studio, not just in numbers but also in quality. It has been an honour and a privilege to witness such growth, and it is also further proof that none of this is worthless.

Music, as I mentioned earlier, will never leave my life. But here’s to a 15 year chapter of my life – a time of growth, change, and so many good things all around.

Thank you to all those who have helped me to grow into the musician and music educator that I am today! This is totally cheesy, but it’s not a good bye – it’s a see you later.

"Without music, life would be a mistake." — Friedrich Nietzsche

A post shared by Rachel Clare (@rchlcwng) on

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A Vancouver-based jack of some trades, hoping to master one or two in my lifetime. Outside of authoring this blog, I am a Communication/International Studies student at SFU; a freelance writer for Curiocity Vancouver and the BC Catholic Newspaper; a host and producer of Y57 on Vancouver Co-op Radio, CFRO 100.5 FM; and a self-proclaimed foodie. Anything else you want to know? Give me a shout at hello@rchlcwng.com!

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