I am sitting at a red light in my car—my home away from home—and I’m desperately trying to eat a few last bites of soup before I drive on. It is not easy to eat soup while driving, though it is decidedly more glamorous than eating pizza behind the wheel.
The thing is, if I don’t eat dinner now, I won’t eat, because I am working from the afternoon into the night, driving around and delivering piano lessons. I have been doing this for almost 20 startling years, and it’s the only way I know how to be a piano teacher.
What makes me like this style of teaching so much, that I’ve stubbornly refused to give it up and “settle down” with my own studio? A few things. I love having an honest break between lessons, in which I can clear my head (and my ears!), and get ready for the next student. I love that families are less likely to cancel, because all they have to do is just be home—easy! I love the feeling of being more like a part of the family, if only for 45 minutes per week. I get to pet the dog, say hello to the younger siblings, and sometimes get offered a snack.
Getting to see a student’s home setup is a bonus, too—is the piano bench the right height? Is the piano tuned? Are there any immediate distractions in the room that need to be eliminated? Which style of music does the family pet bird really respond to?
Part of the reason I like traveling for lessons has to do with my own space as well: I just don’t have enough of it to offer lessons in my house. One day, I dream, I will have a whole room devoted to piano lessons! I will have fewer baby toys for everyone to trip over, and I will teach all of my lessons during the daytime hours, so I can enjoy dinner with my family every night. Hey, if I’m going to dream, why not dream big?
But you see, it’s actually not the dinner thing that makes me rethink my love for being an itinerant piano teacher. I am a piano teacher, after all, and working through the evening is often just part of the deal. The thing that is really starting to get to me lately is the weight of my teaching bag. I love to keep it full of books and binders and flashcards and other fun things—but I’m not getting any younger, you know!
In the end, at least for now, the bag that is breaking my back is not actually a deal-breaker. I could just invest in a rolling suitcase, after all. Right now, there’s too much I love about my current situation, so I can’t switch things up this school year. But you can be sure that if you pull up next to me at a red light, there’s a good chance that I will be enjoying my dinner, which yes, may very well be soup.