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Adult Students – Introduction to Theresa
February 14, 2015
Theresa O’Leary is the Administrative Assistant for Talent CAN Be Taught. She will be guest blogging from time-to-time. Theresa is currently a student at the Talent CAN Be Taught Pickering location and over the next few months will be sharing what it is like to be an adult student, returning to lessons.
Before I jump into the challenges I face as an adult student with a little one, multiple jobs and another one on the way, I thought it would be good to introduce you to my background. So here is a brief (as brief as I could make it) history of my music life…
Like many people, I took piano lessons when I was young. I started playing when I was seven, and stopped taking lessons when I was 15. My third piano teacher moved away, I was active in my high school music community (band, choir, band class, jazz ensembles, and musicals – you name it, I did it), and figured it was time to focus on these new priorities and hobbies. Plus I wasn’t leaving the music community, just re-focusing.
As I finished high school and entered the University of Waterloo for Mathematics, I reached out to the choir and bands to see if they were the right fit. I had always been involved in music, why would my university career be any different. Then I got to school, never followed up and ended up being a Varsity Cheerleader. Absolutely wonderful experience, helped shaped who I am today, but I still always felt like something was missing. In my fourth year of university, I decided to get back into music by taking vocal lessons again – I was up the street from Wilfrid Laurier University, they have a fantastic music program, easy to find wonderful teachers. This ended up leading me to the Grand Youth Philharmonic Choir in Kitchener-Waterloo (another great experience), but it was all temporary. I was graduating, moving to a new city, and starting life as an adult. Who knew how music would fit?
Fast forward to 2013, I’m working in Liberty Village in Toronto, living in Pickering with my husband, and again have been out of the music scene for a few years. My husband and I discussed me taking piano lessons again. When we bought our house, my parents gave me the piano from their home, so it seemed like the perfect time to start piano lessons again.
I had conversations with many different teachers and studios in Pickering and decided that Steve’s Talent CAN Be Taught philosophy’s fit well with me, and the basics I had. Plus, Steve understood that I was a working adult, and sometimes things change – for example if I got caught at work, etc. I signed up for the Achievers Bronze package and started 90 minutes a week.
Steve and I spent a great deal of time deciding where I should “start again”. I was lucky and had a good hold on my basics and technique. All of my theory exams were done through Grade 2 Rudiments (now Advanced Rudiments), however, I had never done a practical examination, and my goal was, and is to teach. I played three grade six pieces the day that Steve met me (I actually just played one in my grade six exam in January). I read well and still knew *most* of my technique (although the requirements had greatly increase since I had left). We went back to grade 4 to do some review and in the process I learned some new pieces in grades 4, 5, and 6, knowing that review is one of the important keys to success that we teach with the TCBT system.
Anyway, four short months after that, I did my first practical examination, it went really well, 90% on my grade 4. However, I was getting into my busiest season at work and knew I was going to need to take a step back. So I played on my own for a few months and resumed lessons 4 months later.
I resumed lessons, and prepping for my next examination. Eight months later, at 5 months pregnant, I performed my grade 5 examination, and successfully achieved 86%. There were some changes in the business and I began taking lessons from both Julian and Steve, and this January just performed my grade 6 exam and received 81%. Not my best performances, plus my one year old and 7 months pregnant self, make for an interesting practice and lesson time!
With the new baby coming soon, and my many part-time jobs now, I’ve again taken a step back. I’m only doing 30 minutes a week with Julian during the day (fits my schedule better). I’ve also no plans to take an exam for some time (I’m thinking January 2016 will be my next exam). Plus, I have a lot of grade 6 and grade 7 pieces I want to play, some grade 5 pieces I want to really polish off and some grade 8 pieces I want to start challenging myself with!
It’s been great being back at lessons. It’s very different then when I was a child in that my priorities change many times a year, but I know I don’t want music to take a back seat anymore. It’s not easy, but I am lucky that my daughter loves to listen to me play and learn, and I have great teachers who are patient during lessons with me and my one-year old.
I’ll be back in a few weeks with blogs about practice, challenges and how different I find being an adult student!
You can follow Theresa’s personal blog at powe7120.wordpress.com. Theresa also monitors our Twitter account, so you can interact with her on twitter @theresaoleary20 or @talentcanbetaug.