Dirty Greasy Fingerprints

One recent afternoon, I literally had to stop in the middle of my conversation with someone because of the revelation that I was smack dab in the middle of a God lesson.

It only took a couple seconds for it to be “downloaded” but has since been processing. Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to observe some newly acquainted students/friends, all of which had previously taken lessons for at least 4-5 years. I’d been informed beforehand that they’d lost almost all their motivation to keep taking lessons because they just didn’t feel like they were any good. I have been teaching piano now for 13 years, so naturally I am going to critique posture, hand position, finesse, control, dynamics etc. So picture this. I visit several different homes. Sit with several separate students. Hear completely different songs. Talk with unrelated families. All I can think about when I watch them are how similar they are to one another. The more I thought about it I realized that they’re unnervingly identical. They all have the EXACT SAME inconsistencies, the very same playing flaws. In fact, I remember thinking and even SAYING to their families, “Their last teacher did them a terrible disservice. I’m so sorry that they wasted your money, for so long.” Yes. I really did say that.

The other day it was all brought home as I was relaying my findings to someone whom I thought knew just one of the students. Turns out she knows them all. She says to me, “Didn’t you know they ALL had the same teacher?” I was speechless. (Insert God lesson). Of course I had no idea that in a city this big, they’d all have the same teacher! But I should have. It was like at the end of a movie when the mystery is finally solved and it flashes through all the prior scenes where it would have been SO OBVIOUS, if only you’d known. I immediately felt bad for the kids because it wasn’t their fault that they basically have to start over from the beginning and relearn, fighting years of bad habits. It’s their teacher who’s to blame. They’d all stuck with it for so long, unknowingly learning from someone who let them down. I was both disappointed and angry at this teacher whom I’ve never met, and whose name I don’t even know. She had left her trail, her fingerprints on these students and even though they were all different, and from unrelated families, their playing pointed straight back to her.

I began to look at myself…my teaching…my influence. If someone were observing MY students, what would they see? As a leader, I WILL leave my fingerprints on those whom I teach,care for, mentor, guide etc. If there is ANYBODY that you have any influence over, you WILL effect them and guess what..it reflects on you! Personally, I would rather be linked to people that go on to incredible things and blow mediocre out of the water rather than be known as someone who “did them a terrible disservice”.The fingerprints you leave on a persons life will either help them be outstanding and extraordinary, or they will be smudges smears that take an unfair amount of elbow grease to remove. Don’t make someone else have to clean up your messes. Instead, be a defining detail that will inspire and launch them into bigger and better things than even they can imagine!

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