One of the hardest things for a parent to learn is how much to let go and when. Are my kids old enough to go down to the village shop on their own? Are they safe to walk to school with their pals? Can they get the bus into town? In the days before mobile phones, it was probably harder than it is now. I remember buying one of those message only little devices for my girls but they weren’t very good and probably made me worry more, not less.
In my own childhood days such things were not available and I probably had more freedom at a younger age than I gave my children. I can remember catching a bus with my sister to the centre of town (Dundee) and going swimming at the old pool down by the docks. On one occasion we lost the purse with the bus-fare in it and went and asked a policeman for help. He put his hand in his pocket, produced a 2/- piece (10p) and gave it to us so we could get home safely. I was only 10 years old when we left Dundee.
As a music teacher, there is also a responsibility in knowing when to let go. When you’ve taught your pupil to the best of your ability, to allow them to spread their wings and find another teacher who can help them progress towards greater things is often a wrench and the timing difficult. The first time I did this with a grade 8 cellist, she never did find another teacher with whom she could build a rapport. She tried several but in the end just drifted along on her own abilities until she went off to university to study medicine. So it’s not as easy as “right, off you go, I’ve done my bit” – besides which, I tend to get fond of my pupils (and their families) and it is losing a friend. (It was the Dad of the pupil below who gave me the description “Batty, but beautiful!”)
The latest of my students to reach this stage is Amy. I taught her piano from the age of 5 or 6 and then cello. She gave up piano at around grade 3 but kept on with cello, passing her grade 8 just before Christmas. She then found another teacher and I was delighted because she needed a change. I was even more delighted when she then asked me to teach her piano again.
During the Easter holiday, I had a phone call from her. “I’ve got some news!” …..”I’ve been accepted as a Junior Student at the Royal Academy of Music in London!”
Wow! Well done, Amy!
I’m certainly happy to let go for her to do that!