Wrapping up lessons with my piano students is one of the most sentimental parts of this season of endings. I’ve been overwhelmingly blessed with a career that uses my talents and training, and after three years of a job that definitely wasn’t like that, I have been especially grateful for every single day of this experience.Maybe the most fulfilling part of this job is that it puts me in control of my success for a day of work. I don’t have to worry about choosing between making a customer or my boss happy. All I have to do is get along with this kid for this half-hour, and I really enjoy that I tailor my lesson plans based on what I know is best for each student because of our established relationship. I love that I am in control of studio members, so I can easily weed out students who don’t want to cooperate and parents who are manipulative or difficult. Most of the time those issues are probably just personality differences, but it’s a huge gift that I decide where I get to draw those lines.
Self-employment is an experience you can’t understand until you’ve done it yourself. I think it’s my best fit, and I’m excited that moving provides a great opportunity to make a few changes for better growth as a business owner… even though it does mean basically starting over with clients, too. This sets me apart a bit from others who don’t understand what it means to work for yourself, and I find the comments from people who don’t “get it” pretty laughable. Most people have been spared the hassle of billing, fees, bookkeeping, paying taxes that aren’t withheld by an employer, saving up for unpaid sick and vacation days, and selecting a single-payer private health-insurance plan for a woman in her mid-twenties, but those are just as much a part of my day-to-day business operations as sitting at the piano.
I learned a lot of lessons in my season of office work and I think that strengthens my perspective in many aspects of life. I’m still not at the point where I would say I’m glad I went through that. I wish I hadn’t believed the doubts and been brave enough to start moving towards this sooner. On the other hand, self-employment is not for the faint of heart, and I still think we were a little bit crazy to jump forward while Aaron was in grad school and we had a mortgage and wanted to have kids, but it has enriched our lives greatly. In the face of other significant heartbreak and waiting, it has been a special gift to be so fulfilled and delighted in my job.
I’m grateful the days I have worked are leaving more behind than a bunch of pay stubs. I’ve marched around my living room to the beat of a metronome to demonstrate that two eighth-notes fit in the same amount of time as a quarter note, watched hard work and discipline result in beautiful self-expression, and explained how JS Bach’s Crab Canon is like one giant math problem on a Moebius strip. I’ve helped kids prepare songs to play at their grandparents’ funerals, admonished unprepared students to develop a stronger work ethic, and taught them how to fairly evaluate their own improvements. The best part of a day is telling a child, “You worked hard and I am so proud of you!” Piano lessons? Sometimes it feels more like I’m teaching “Life Lessons.” I’m okay with that.
While I’ve been told I earn a “killing” (ha) to “stay home and sit around,” (ha) and have been told charging a fair rate is “greedy” (ha), none of that is true. I’m pretty sure I’ve been wildly blessed in this job and I’m grateful for that. How many people can say the cornerstone of their career is “rocking”? Not many. I’m in a happy minority.