“Lord, give me wisdom… and lots of patience.” This has been my constant prayer during these last two weeks of lessons. Having more than one student a week is a new concept for me, as my history of piano teaching has been pretty spread out with only one or two students being taught per week. Having multiple students who don’t speak the same language as me is also a new challenge. They say music is a universal language, but there are some things that just have to be explained, not demonstrated. Having numerous students per week who don’t speak the same language as me AND are under the age of 7 is just downright merciless, not to mention exhausting. I’ve never in my life felt as ess as I have these past two weeks, trying to maintain the focus of unruly children and keeping the between having fun and actually learning something. (They came to a piano lesson to learn how to play piano, right?) Half the time I feel like I’m babysitting. If I get my students to successfully stagger through one song, it’s a good day.
Was this really why I came to Thailand – to babysit children at a music lesson? When my year as a student missionary is over, will I feel like I made any sort of impact on anyone’s life? As a result of my teaching, will even one student feel like they learned anything new about music? Will music develop into a passion that inspires creativity, or will it simply be a chore that’s forced upon them by their parents? As these questions roll around in my mind and my sense of self-worth as a teacher grows smaller and smaller, I have to ask myself one more question: what really matters more – the music, or the students?
The truth is, most of my students will probably never become any sort of great musician. They may never make it past their first piano book before quitting. Music may never be a creative outlet for them, and after their time at Peace Music Academy, they may never touch another instrument ever again. But what I’m starting to realize is, that’s OK. I didn’t come to Thailand to make musicians, I came to make friends. It’s not my responsibility to create a musical revival that inspires thousands to become great musicians, it’s my responsibility to share the love of Jesus by showing how much I care for my students and their families. (However, if by some miracle, one or two of my students decide to continue pursuing music after I’m gone, I really wouldn’t mind…)
Learning to let go of my priorities is a process that will probably take longer than just this year. But I’ve learned in just these two weeks that the more I fall in love with God, the more my priorities will change. Yes, I’m here to teach music, but teaching music is just one way that God will use me to reach others for Him. When we get to heaven, we’re all going to be fabulous musicians anyway. So what if music lessons are more like babysitting than learning to play an instrument? Bring on the hyperactive 6-year-olds. Bring on the kids who don’t want to be there. Bring on the Thai-only-speakers. Only let me be a tool in God’s hands as He continues to shift my priorities from teaching music to saving souls.