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Music Teacher Tip #54 - Reach Out for Others

It feels like we’ve lost so much. We cannot make music the way we used to and it may be a long time before we can again. It reminds me of an experience I had as a kid.

When I was about 14 or 15, friends of my parents brought their daughter over. I had heard my parents discussing her before they arrived. She had a severe case of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. She was only 8 or 9.

Now if you know me, you know that I was excited to entertain a younger kid. I’ve always loved children and still find them funner to hang around than most adults. But I was worried that I wouldn’t know how to treat her or how to adapt to how SHE needed to play. Would she be sad and disappointed if she couldn’t do what my little brothers and I could do??? Would she suffer in pain?

I needn’t have worried. They arrived and she was all smiles despite her stiff gait and halted movements. When we later wanted to make crafts on the floor, she didn’t sit out because it was hard to squat; instead, she reached for my hands and without a word, let me help to bear some of her weight so she could lower herself slowly to join my brothers.

She didn’t see the barriers, she just reached out for help and found a new way to get where she wanted to go. When she felt pain, she asked for a pillow and kept playing.

When it was time for them to leave, she stretched her arms toward me again and I instinctively lifted her to a standing position. Then she hugged me goodbye and asked could we play again sometime soon.

I was struck! Not once did she opt out of the fun or complain. Not once did she cry because of her limitations. She accepted them and asked for help when she needed it. I don’t even remember her name, but I’ll never forget the lesson she taught me that night.

Now I find myself needing that lesson again. We are all feeling the weight of the limitations facing us. Nothing can be the way it was! All the ways we’ve learned to teach no longer work... well at least not the same way.

I find myself wanting to be like that little girl.

Instead of struggling because of the weight of my limitations, I will accept them. Instead of feeling the burden of what’s lost, I will look for the joy in what I CAN do and I will reach my arms up toward others when I can’t lift myself.

Hold hope tightly and don’t let go. Look for what you can do and celebrate it. But most of all, in moments of struggle, reach out for others. You are not alone.

Happy teaching!

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