I’ve heard it said that we all have a “tank” inside of us that gets filled up when we are loved and appreciated, but drains out when we expend energy just “doing life” or giving our time and energy to others. You can spot a person with an empty tank pretty easily. They are the ones who are losing their cool over minor issues. Or the ones who are negative about everything going on in their lives. You know these people. You work with them, you serve with them on the volunteer committee at school. They drain you by their very presence. You can choose to try to fill their tank or you can flee to a safer distance!
The saddest thing that I see from time to time is a child whose love tank is not full. It might not be dead empty, but I believe that a child has to operate with a really full love tank in order for them to securely operate in a tumultuous time of bullies, busy parents and overloaded schedules.
As a piano teacher, I spend time with children either one-on-one or in small groups of 2 or 3. Although the main reason parents bring their children to see me is so that I can teach them how to play the piano, a major benefit of this time spent together every week is a beautiful, growing student-teacher relationship. Watching a student grasp a new concept and conquer it is why I do what I do! They leave my studio with more abilities and understanding than when they arrived. And their love tanks are full because we laughed, we cried, we high-fived our way through the learning process. In a word, we bonded.
In my heart of hearts, I know that the piano bench is an incredible place for filling up love tanks. No cell phone, no iPad, no computer, just you and your child facing 88 black and white keys and an open music book. You are sending LOUD messages to your child that they are important. They are loved. They can do this. You are in this together!
How do you cross over into their territory of piano? By asking them if they would show you what they played at their lesson this week. And really pay attention! Ask them to do that cool section again because you were fascinated with how their fingers could be so tricky! And then do this all over again in a couple of days! You can ask them to teach you something and then truly and sincerely learn it. Even if you already know how to play, let your child show you how he is learning and open your mind to understand his relationship with the music. His love tank will be filled by your interaction and undivided attention, and you will love how much he grows into a securely loved human being who happens to be able to play the piano!