Piecing the Puzzle: Lessons Learned From Former Students

Yesterday, I spent an inordinate amount of time immersed in studio bookkeeping. The last three tax seasons, I’ve found myself having a staring contest with my income and expenses and woefully questioning why I didn’t purchase that (piano humidifier, space heater, newfangled laser printer) before the end of the calendar year so I could write it off on that year’s taxes. I decided to nip that situation in the bud this go around, which makes the impending $600 studio door replacement less painful in its inevitability. Winter is coming…. : /

In the throes of some moderately serious mathematic head-counting, I happened to stumble across my former student list, which is somewhat tucked away in my online studio management system. There’s 76 names on it. Glancing over the list, my thoughts ranged from:

Who is that again?!
So much potential, so little time.
Never again…never.

Reading each name was its own little mini-gift; with every line there existed a memory, a story, and an even grander lesson. Oddly, I found myself longing for my days in academic research, where the discovery of an obscure yet entirely relevant article was like unwrapping a gift from someone I wished I knew, someone who in all likelihood is alive right this very moment, possesses the knowledge I need, the wisdom I crave, and is only separated from me by one city, state, country, or continent. It really is a small world, after all…

Reading the names of my former students brought me closer to my craft for a brief, delicious moment, and I savored reading them in the way I would complete a puzzle, knowing that each piece I held would fit neatly, beautifully, sometimes unpredictably into the more intricate (yet still incomplete and evolving) portrait of myself as a musician, teacher, and person.

So begins my next series, in which I will recount the colorful, manifold tales of these ghostly names, these solitary, jagged puzzle pieces and their secret lessons. There’s more than 76 stories here, for sure; some are cheerful and others more painful and bittersweet. I’ll only highlight a few.


Until tomorrow…


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