Getting a Head Start on Learning

My learning experiences started before I even stepped foot in a classroom. My mother has been a teacher for almost 30 years, and she began my learning very early on. As Soon as I was born, she read to me every single night, and sometimes even various times in the day. She even taught me to read when I was only 4 years old. We lived across the street from the library, so that has also shaped my experiences greatly. I have always had a passion for reading, and since I had a head start on it before my schooling experiences, it allowed me to be ahead of my years reading wise, and knowledge wise.

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The second key moment in my learning development was beginning piano lessons. My grandparents lived right next door to us, and they had a beautiful upright piano. My grandma was not a pianist, but she loved music, especially classical, and her daughter (my aunt) had played piano quite often growing up. So, at the ripe age of 6, I had my first piano lesson. I fell in love with it (even though I never practiced), and it was the start of a beautiful journey. From then on, I continued to have piano lessons very regularly, and I still do. It came easy to me at the beginning, and I’ve had a hard time coming to terms with the fact that now that I am a more advanced player, it requires more work and practice time. That has been a struggle for me most recently, but I will get to that later.

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The biggest challenge I had while learning in high school was my science teacher for my junior and senior year. I had a knack for science, and it was something I thought I wanted to do for the rest of my life, but my love of music and negative experiences changed my mind real quick. This particular teacher was a very nice person, but she was too nice to be a good teacher. She also treated the students as friends primarily and not as students. I remember multiple times when I would stay after class to listen to her complaining about other students and other teachers even. To her own students. It was far from professional, and I aspire to be almost opposite of that. She also was known to burst out in tears her first year since she was going through a divorce, and could not leave her personal life at home. She never brought original ideas to the classroom, and lectures were strictly her reading right out of the book with no other insight. She let a lot of students get away with things in her classroom, and not a single student respected her. It’s really difficult to respect your teacher when she doesn’t treat you like students. On this note, I applied to the Chadron RHOP program my senior year of high school, was invited for the interview process, and was the only student who was not accepted to be in the program, or even as an alternate. That made me realize it wasn’t actually science that I wanted to do at all. It has always been education, but specifically music.

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The saddest experience I’ve ever had so far with a teacher happened last summer. My high school English teacher was struck by a car and was killed. She was 32 years old, with 3 children, and was the best person I had ever met in my life. She constantly pushed her students for bigger and greater things, and consistently told me I could do better if I tried harder. I tended to not try very hard in school, since everything had come so easy to me. I skated by on how easy learning was for me and did not apply myself. She had so much faith. In all of us, and in the Lord. She was an angel on Earth. Along with being an amazing person, she was also the best teacher I ever had. She picked the best literature for us, even though it hadn’t always been “standard literature”. She made everything as fun as she could and I remember doing daily grammar every single day in the classroom, and she encouraged us to answer by giving candy to people that answered. She understood each and every one of our challenges, and let us pick our own final projects in every single class. There isn’t a single student unaffected by the loss of the best teacher we will ever know. It has been almost an entire year since she died, and I still think about her every day. I will never forget how she helped shape my education and school-life.

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The most recent important learning experience I had was my junior piano recital about a month and a half ago. Even though I am an education major, with any music degree, the bare minimum is completing a 30-minute long recital. I went through a lot of emotional and physical trials while preparing for the recital. Practicing an hour a day really takes a toll on the body. I had began to get the music for my recital in the fall semester last year. Then I got the rest of my music at the beginning of the spring semester. Piano recitals also have to be fully memorized, so I had about 2 months to prepare the new music and memorize it. To say it was challenging is an understatement. As I mentioned previously, I hardly ever practiced while growing up. I have always done the bare minimum necessary, but with something as big as my recital, I had to physically force myself to practice more than I ever had in the past. It put a lot of strain on myself, and I had a few mental breakdowns during the spring semester. Preparation isn’t even the most stressful part. The most stressful part is the recital hearing. In a recital hearing, you are playing your entire recital an month beforehand for all of the music staff. All of the professors then discuss whether or not you’re ready to perform your recital. I passed, but not without tons of worry about whether or not I would. Of course, there were requirements. I had to clean up a few things on a piece and have more dynamic and accent contrasts throughout. The rest of the semester leading up to my recital, was mostly clean-up, but I practiced more thoroughly than I ever wanted to. I wanted to make sure everything sounded amazing. I had never been more nervous in my life than I was on that stage all by myself. It showed in my playing, but I slowly got over it, and the second piece on my program sounded the best it ever had!

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There are way more experiences than these throughout my learning, but these are definitely the most important ones. I’m sure I’ll touch on these things and much more in upcoming blog posts. All I know for sure is this is exactly what I should be doing with my life, and I couldn’t be happier with my choice for my future!

13 thoughts on “Getting a Head Start on Learning”

  1. I love that you started your post with learning that happened before you ever entered school. Living across the street from the library sounds delightful to me! I think reading is one of the best ways to learn (and to relax). Your commitment to music is impressive. I know it’s very challenging to be a music major. In many ways, it sounds like you discovered your true passions at a young age, though you needed a little push to rediscover them later on. I love the way you turn what could have been a really low moment into the high point of discovering what you truly are passionate about.

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  2. Wow , this was so interesting to read. You have had so many great learning experiences even if they were through very difficult circumstances. I am so sorry about your favorite teacher. She sounds like such an amazing person and a great role model for a future teacher. I wish you luck with your own teaching career. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. I love how through each experience you were able to learn and adjust your life accordingly. I couldn’t imagine the nerves you felt for your recital, but it sounds like all your hard work really paid off! I also started playing piano when I was about 6 or 7 years old, but I decided to quit when I got in 7th grade. Some days I really wish I hadn’t quit, so I really hope you continue to pursue this skill!

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    1. Piano is a very good life skill to have! Not only is it fun, knowing piano also teaches a lot of life lessons you can’t find anywhere else. I highly recommend you get back into it!

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  4. Wow….what a great post. I felt so heartbroken to read the story about your high school English teacher. I’m sorry that you had to go through that, however she obviously left a very positive impact on you. Your beginnings sounded a lot like mine. My mom was teacher, as well as my grandmother and several aunts and uncles. There was always reading, investigating, and learning going on. Music can be helpful in learning, and I understand your pressures that you have with what you want for your piano recitals, but I hope that you can also use your music for relaxation and enjoyment as well.

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    1. It was definitely a rough part of my life, she left one of the greatest impacts on my life though. Being in a teacher family is the best! I’ve had so many great experiences learning and participating in experiments and investigations. I definitely also use music for enjoyment! It’s one of my favorite things to do.

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  5. That is crazy that you have to play for a half hour. That would take a lot of discipline when it comes to practicing and performing. There are many great lessons that discipline can give you. Great post!

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    1. It definitely does take a lot of discipline. It was the biggest challenge I’ve ever come across in my college career. The performance itself was the most stressful thing I’ve ever done.

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