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Teaching observation

I have been working for a year now with a lady, in her 70s, with Parkinson's.

Normally I would cross town to teach her as it’s difficult for her to travel and we need to work when her drugs create the best situation for her.

Now though, I’m teaching online and I’m seeing new things, thinking differently and changing habits.

As I played the piece to her that we are now learning, (the biggest thing so far) I could see, so clearly, that C is totally consumed and affected by music. I watched her whole being respond to sound. The screen made this more obvious than real life.

When we improvise, she is the most rhythmic in her natural response to music, of all my pupils.

As a child through to around the age of 19, she was at ballet school. There, around 11, she danced some of the Rite of Spring. She says there was no particular method of learning other than listening to instruction and observing. She just learnt it fast, by heart. They all did.

C is a really fast learner. We hardly use music as she doesn’t work at her best this way, but she has it as a reference.

With all her considerable physical challenges, she has learnt and played through with me, a piece that used to be on the exam list, in two lessons. Neither of us expected this speed. We have reached a pivotal moment, (having built slowly) where she can see things taking shape more. This has given her confidence and created more flow.

Her ballet background keeps her ludicrously modest and hypercritical. Something to work on more, to free up her creativity. Learning an instrument is the most powerful way to see our relationship with ourselves and to find out how we do, and don’t, function well.