Today Cass’ regular piano teacher at Yamaha was on leave. A substitute teacher was assigned to us.
Upon entering the room, I was taken aback. The room was pitch black. When the door was opened, the replacement teacher jumped out from her siesta. Ms L was taking her forty winks with her head on the table. I had a bad first impression already.
Ms L sports a boyish hair cut and my first impression of her was that she’s a tad tomboyish. She donned on a black blouse, black pants and sneakers and is on the plump side. And she looked sleepy! In my heart, she really does not look like a good piano teacher and not very impressive to me. I told myself not to be prejudice too soon.
But the moment she sat down with Cass, everything changed. Ms L is magical!
Before Cass played her piece, Ms L first corrected Cass on her posture, position of her hands and distance of the seat to the piano. She commented cheerily that she’s been correcting her students’ posture from morning till evening. She spoke to Cass in Mandarin. Later she spoke articulately in impeccable English with ang mo slang too.
After Cass played her piece once, Ms L patiently pointed out to Cass how she could improve the piece to one that is more expressive. She demonstrated to Cass how it should be done. Though Ms L does not look like someone who is very expressive, I was absolutely and 100% wrong. Do not judge someone from her appearance! She was totally expressive and impressive. When she played the piano, she played with all her heart and feelings. Her body swayed with each stroke on the keys. She hummed the melody. She sang. Then she asked Cass to sing, to which Cass shrugged shyly. She said “never mind, hum out the melody, darling”. She told Cass to imagine that she is in a boat on a river cruise in Venice as the title of the piece is “Carnival of Venice”. She even showed Cass a picture of a river cruise in Venice on her mobile phone. She showed Cass how to improve every bar of the piece with expression and emotion. Within the first 15 minutes of the class, she had already cracked me up with her wit and creativity, her skill in teaching young kids and her extremely amiable and cheerful personality. For the first time in months, I did not doze off during lesson with Cass. I was admiring her and laughing away at her wittiness. I later found out that she is currently a student at MIA (Malaysia Institute of Arts) pursuing her Diploma in Music. Aha, no wonder! I was totally impressed with Ms L and wanted her to be Cass’ new teacher.
Ever since teacher Katelyn (Cass’ very first teacher) left to pursue her law degree, Cass has not been too pleased with Ms J, the new teacher. Ms J is very quiet, inexpressive and not dynamic enough. She’s boring, sorry to say that, and I do not want Cass to drop out of piano because of a boring teacher who does not know how to make each lesson interesting. I actually have intention of speaking to the owner of the music school to switch teacher. And today I felt 100% convinced that I have to change teacher. I wanted Ms L for Cass!
I later found out from the owner of the music school that Ms L only comes to teach on Sundays. From Monday through Saturday, Ms L has to attend classes at MIA. We can’t attend on Sunday as we have to go to church and then spend our family day together. Moreover, after 2 years, Ms L will be off overseas to pursue her PhD in Music for 9 frigging long years! I don’t want Cass to suffer another heartache of losing her favorite teacher. I was really disappointed. I asked for another teacher for Cass anyway.
After class, I asked Cass how she liked Ms L and I guessed it right. Cass loved Ms L’s style of teaching. We kept talking about Ms L after we left the music center.
I am having the heebie-jeebies now over the new teacher for Cass. I hope that Cass and her new teacher will hit if off and have the perfect chemistry. Cass fell in love with piano when teacher Katelyn was teaching her. Cass still calls and sends Whatsapp messages to Katelyn till today. Teacher Katelyn was infamous at the music center as the screaming, no-nonsense and perfectionist teacher yet there was perfect alchemy between Cass and her. A good teacher will either make or break Cass’ interest in piano, that’s for sure.
Moral of the story: never judge the book by its cover. The book may have a very dull and unattractive cover but once you flip the cover over, the content may knock you off your feet.