As 2012 was finishing up, I found myself in a valley. For those of you who don't know the significance of a valley, let me explain. As a Simply Music Teacher, I talk to my students at the beginning of their musical journey about the ups and downs of learning the piano. Truly, the ups and downs are happening all the time, with everything we decide is important enough to do or have for a long period of time, i.e. any relationship, project, routine, job, goal, etc.
These ups and downs are likened to being on a mountain top (I love piano), trudging along a plateau (piano is okay) and being lost in a valley (I don't like piano anymore - make it stop). And as I speak to the parent and student about this, I usually sense a general feeling of discomfort when I ask the question, "How will you support your child during those times when he/she is in the valley and doesn't want to practice anymore?"
There are a lot of feelings that come up around this dreaded valley. NOT loving something ALL the time seems like failure... a reason to quit... give up... move on... try something else... and it's also a reason to conclude certain things about oneself: piano is not for me... I'm not musical... if I was any good at it, shouldn't I enjoy it all the time...
Our world presents a distorted picture of success. It's a happy face. Success shouldn't come so easily that we forget what it takes to continually improve and get better at what we're successful at. It's not a happy face. At least not forever. And it's not a sad face. At least not forever. It's all of it and more.
I have never confessed to a parent or student when I'm in a valley. And I'm sure the reason is because of what I have believed about that dreaded valley. What would the student think? What would the parent say? Would this information, in some way, chip away the trust they've placed in me?
Well, I'm confessing it now. Perhaps there's safety in knowing the valley is now behind me. What's most significant for me is the moment I decided to turn the switch. I had been feeling disconnected from my teacher community, had felt the overwhelm of being behind in my office work and training and I was hoping for a miracle to happen at our four day Simply Music Symposium. Fortunately, I didn't wait until then.
After walking in circles in that deep dark valley, I decided that I was going to have to climb out. I couldn't wait for my fellow teachers to pull me out. That Monday, I just needed to make one small change. This set me up for the week. Creativity sparks creativity. Then the Symposium came and the connections made with the Simply Music community helped me continue to climb. And once I was back in my studio... I could breathe again. Fresh air, new ideas, joy, love for music, gratitude for my fabulous students and their fabulous parents put my feet on the mountain top again.
Wouldn't it be great if I could stay there? Not really. At such a high altitude I might get light-headed... Seriously, it is wonderful to be there, but I realize more than ever that the elation from being on top again, wouldn't be quite so wonderful had I not been in that dreadful valley. And this is the point... take it all. Go with it. Allow it to shape character and purpose... There's nothing like that feeling of knowing, "I made it through!"