Without going into intimate details, let’s just say that, 7 weeks away from my due date, I’ve gone through some dramatic physical changes in the last few months. I used to fear these changes; they meant my body would never be the same--that my life would never be the same. But today, as I inspect these changes in the mirror, I’m fascinated. And for some reason it reminds me of the path I’ve taken in music and my decision to teach.
Some say that those who can’t do teach. This is absolutely wrong. Teaching is a different kind of doing. The ability to get someone else to do almost feels like a superpower.
I started noticing the change when I was in Japan teaching English. At the time I saw changes in my professionalism. I gained respect from other adults as I took them through the ins and outs of the language. My pacing got better. I changed the way I spoke to make sure everyone understood me. When I returned to the US a few years later, I was a different person.
But I didn’t see teaching in my future. I set aside that skill set and focused on music. I had an album in my head that needed to come out. The next few years felt like I was sewing Cinderella’s dress using actual mice. Not the efficient, magical mice that can get it done in a night. Regular mice.
My return to teaching was almost an accident. A good friend of mine kept encouraging me to teach at the music store she worked at. I was resistant at first, but eventually I realized I needed to supplement my income and gigs weren’t doing it. I began teaching again.
Almost without my realizing it, teaching became a huge part of my career. I left the store and began working from students’ homes, and started a singer-songwriters’ workshop. I marvelled at the communities that began to form, both in the group and among my students’ families.
And as I taught, I changed even more. I began to understand the vast diversity and potential of children. And with each new challenge, I felt a part of myself being bolstered: patience.
Where did this newfound ability come from? I had never had it before. Not with myself, not with others. I had always been plagued with only-child syndrome. I want something, I want it my way, and I want it now. But now, as I taught kids as young as four, I could wait. I could sneak the knowledge in, laugh with the kids and reel them back in. After a while, I realized I had changed on a fundamental level. I could give. And I found myself being not only teacher, but mentor.
As I look in the mirror, I can’t see these changes. But I see others. I see my stomach balloon out and know that inside is someone I will attempt to be patient with. Someone I will sneak knowledge into, laugh with, and reel back to me. Someone I will give to, and mentor.
The change is subtle. I still make music, of course. I finally managed to get that album out of my head and into the world. But it stopped being about me and became about the music. It took on a life of its own and I couldn’t be prouder. And I am just as proud of my students who learned how to play Old MacDonald, or Adele. When I put out my album it was no longer my voice, but the voice on the CD, fixed into existence. Because when I transformed, I gained this superpower. I put the work in and--poof! Magic came out. And though my body is carrying this thing inside me, I can already tell by its kicks and punches that it is a life of its own. And in a couple months, he will come out and transform me all over again.