Paige Kelley was a piano student of mine for 11 years, and she wrote this essay as part of her application to Vanderbilt University. She is now a senior in college and still plays piano for enjoyment. She has such a special place in my heart as my first piano student to graduate from high school! It's wonderful to know that the teacher-student relationship os two-fold!
"Sitting at the piano, I squint at the sheet music in front of me. Frustrated, I continue to stumble through the next measure of the piece. I cringe. Something about the previous chord was not right. I slump, filled with chagrin. My piano teacher’s voice rings in my ear, “Not perfect yet. Try again.” Once again, I remind myself of the five flats in the key signature of “Clair de Lune” - B,E,A,D, and G. The thought of mastering this piece makes me want to bang my head against the white ivory keys looming in front of me, but I know that my teacher, Ms. Stathia, will lead me through the intimidating jumble of music in my Classics book. She is my guiding light - in many ways other than music instruction. Lessons learned from her, through the key of D-flat, are lifelong and everlasting.
B – Blunt. Occasionally, an overwhelming amount of schoolwork hinders me from coming to a lesson well prepared. Although I may try to convince my teacher that I managed to practice, she can tell when I haven’t met my expectations. She is not afraid to let me know when my performance is sub-par. However, my teacher is also able to commend me when my discipline has paid off to transform a sheet of music into a piece of art. Her honesty has taught me to never expect any more – or less – than my dedication deserves.
E – Encouraging. Performing in recitals has always given me the worst case of nerves. Despite my unfailing commitment and countless hours of practice, trembling hands can reduce my flawless production into something lackluster. At every recital, she sits besides the stage to mentally prepare me before I walk into the spotlight. Disregarding the times I have frozen in the middle of a piece and skipped to the final measures during a performance, she has never relinquished the hope that I have the ability to astound the audience with my artistic capabilities. Whenever I doubt myself, I can turn to her consolation and fortitude.
A – Avid. My teacher’s passion for the piano proliferates every minute that I spend with her. It’s evident that she teaches children the beauty of music because she treasures the impact that it can make. Without hesitation, she will lower the tuition fee for a student from a struggling family. She will meet for a lesson at 7:00 on a Saturday morning or 11:00 on a Wednesday night. Regardless of the circumstance, she continuously stretches herself for the absolute wellbeing of those whom she teaches, influencing me to do the same.
D – Delightful. Although my study of piano requires focus, the first ten minutes of my lessons are generally filled with light conversation. I look forward to sharing my week’s highs and lows with my teacher, as she proves to be a source of advice. Unlike the stereotypical piano instructor, she is understanding and easygoing, serving as an outlet for my venting. Because of her charming disposition, she makes every moment we share enjoyable as well as constructive.
G – Greek. Both my teacher’s mother and father were born and raised in Greece, and her roots are evident even in her name – Efstathia Dimoulakis. Throughout the eleven years that she has served as my mentor and instructor, I have enjoyed learning about the various cultural characteristics of Mediterranean tradition. Not only have I been exposed to the customs of her country, but I’ve also experienced first-hand the characteristics of the typical Greek. She is vivacious and lives every moment as if it may be her last. She is faithful and hospitable, treating me as if I were not her student, but instead a member of her family.
My time with my instructor has been a learning experience for the both of us. As heart rendering as it is to conclude my study of the piano, I will continue to carry the lessons that she has taught me as I embark on my journey of adulthood. As I face future disappointments, I will be reminded of my mastery of the five flats in “Clair de Lune” and my piano teacher, who lead me every step of the way, so that I can persevere and live the life I dream. B, E, A, D, and G."