Meeting People Where They Are At

I learned this lesson today at Charlie’s drum lesson and final recital.

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There was this super annoying, smart, loquacious child who kept interrupting the lessons every week to ask questions, give commentary and issue commands. Literally. He used this word, command.

The teacher asked if the class had any questions before they began and he replied that he didn’t have any questions, but he did have a command. What? Who says that? And the teacher calmly replied with a question, “You have a command?”  And the boy, proceeded with his command:  “Yes. I have a command that you play the electric guitar a little bit more quietly because it’s too loud.”  He wasn’t trying to be bossy. He just wanted control of his environment and was uncomfortable with the loudness of the guitar playing without the accompaniment of the drum banging little angels.

I thought I was coming to observe and enjoy Charlie’s last drum lesson today. I wasn’t planning on learning a life lesson by watching the instructor react to this student. This teacher never showed any negative emotion to the constant questioning and planning and interruptions that this little boy offered.  Instead, the instructor met him where he was at. He replied with kindness and explained why the guitar sounded louder than usual and reassured him that if after the drums joined in and he still felt it was too loud, that he would adjust the sound of the amplifier. He then showed by example how the two groups worked together and helped the boy to be comfortable.

When the boy was leading in and playing ahead, he gently explained that this might be confusing to the other players as to when to begin and that it actually confused him too. He explained how the boys behavior affected the group and never passed judgement. When the boy would ask to ad-lib, he would gently tell him that eventually that might be a good idea, but for now they were probably good working on the standard piece and that one day they would learn that skill.

When the kid started talking and thinking about other things they should try, the teacher just gently reminded him that they were there to drum and that he could think a little less right now and just drum. The kid always responded in a positive way and did what was expected of him. There wasn’t ever a power struggle. This instructor was amazing and patient and loving and kind and talented.

Tonight I was thankful that he chose to teach in so many ways and I’m going to miss drum lessons!

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