The Playground

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Simply Music Teacher – Kim Nelson

Found in: Simply Music Community

Zippo lighters or piano teaching? Luckily it was piano teaching that won out. Even though Texas single mom Kim Nelson had never played piano she wasn’t going to let that get in the way of pursuing a vision and building a thriving studio. Kim is living testament to the power of determination. In this chat with friend and fellow Teacher Kathy Kiger, Kim’s reflections on the many ways teaching has changed her life are inspiring.


Courage and Confidence – the Simply Music Way

Recently, on the ECL, I shared about a personal breakthrough I experienced in my teaching. It was one of those defining moments that I suspect we all have as Simply Music teachers and it left me even more resolved and committed to helping to create a world in which everyone plays…freely.

First off, here’s a little about my background. I have been teaching Simply Music for about 3.5 years. When I signed up for teacher training, I could play heart and soul and had a month or two of piano lessons as a kid. That was the extent of my pre-Simply Music piano experience. While I had always wanted to play the piano, that actually wasn’t the primary reason for my first call to Neil to find out about teaching. What led me to Simply Music was an urgent need to find some way to support my three daughters after finding myself, very suddenly and unexpectedly, as a single mom. After much searching and prayer, a dear friend and fellow homeschooling mom told me to check out this program called Simply Music she had stumbled onto in a magazine ad. Looking back, it seems more than a little crazy but after reading every jot and tittle of the website, I called Neil to see if I could be a piano teacher… even though I didn’t actually play the piano. It was a terrifying phone call to make but after telling him my background and situation, he told me I would be a fantastic teacher. And I believed him. Thus began my amazing Simply Music journey. I began teacher training in September of 2008 and started teaching my first students in May of 2009.  As of January 2013, I will have over 45 students enrolled.

Aligning myself with Neil and Simply Music was one of most important and best life choices I have ever made, but as a new player and teacher, I have also struggled greatly with insecurity and overcome fears too numerous to mention. In fact, if my children weren’t depending on me and I wasn’t absolutely certain it was the Lord’s answer to my prayers, I may have quit early on. The rewards and benefits of staying the course and navigating this long-term relationship were confirmed (again!) this summer when I started a new adult student. As a transfer student from another Simply Music teacher, I knew she was much more musically experienced and educated  than me. Her prior musical experience included an advanced musical degree with an emphasis in piano and many years as a public school music teacher, band director, church pianist and traditional piano teacher. When she came to her first lesson I asked her what her goals and expectations were and after talking about her fears and insecurities, mostly associated with music falling off the piano and extreme performance anxiety, she said she wanted to learn to play without music. We had a great lesson and after going over her foundation song, a snippet of an arrangement and giving the class a composition assignment it was time to go. As she was leaving she asked what the large object in the back of my studio was. It was a portable air conditioner I purchased when my main a/c was out for 10 days. After answering her, I remembered I had written Lead Me to Light lyrics for another class about my A/C being out… in Texas… in August, so I even sat back down and played and sang my tale of woe for her, which she seemed to enjoy.

It occurred to me when she left that I am finally secure in my ability to contribute to anyone’s musical journey.   In the past I would have been very scared of her musical accomplishments, and even as recently as a year ago may not have even agreed to teach her. But this time I wasn’t. Experience or no experience, degree or no degree; for once I wasn’t the slightest bit intimidated by someone’s musical background. I respect and applaud her background and abilities, but I’m not scared of them. I now own and respect my piano and musical background and it feels great.  It’s about so much more than piano isn’t it?!