Life in the Trenches

I was asked a couple years ago, almost accusingly, how I could possibly have so many private students… week in and out. The tone of my inquirer suggested either a) I was using some sort of voodoo magic or b) I wasn’t playing fair (taking more than my fair share of the available clientele in the area). The real answer is c): I’ve been “in the trenches” teaching lessons non-stop in Issaquah, Washington since the mid-1990s. “Non-stop” is fairly literal. I haven’t missed more than two weeks in a row with any of my regular students since my honeymoon in late August 1996. Being there for your students 40-48 weeks a year for twenty years in one location (Front Street) is a productive consistency. I’ve taught here long enough that two “kids” who took lessons from me in high school are now very capable music professionals who teach at my school. Former 8th grade students show up in my Facebook feed with their wives/husbands and their own kids in beaming family photos. Simply by being here, and not leaving to do anything else, I’ve built up an organic network of referrals that keeps me busy teaching. Life in the trenches can be hard. I took my hobby and turned it into a job I have to show up for. I love playing guitar most days but there are certainly times I’d rather be somewhere else, just doing something different for a change. But consistency has not only been good for business. It has maximized the impact music has on my students’ lives. And it has made ME a much better and more broad-minded musician than I would have been, left to my own devices. All of the CDs in my car–and I mean ALL the CDs in my car–are bands and artists my students turned me on to. I’m not sure what I’d be listening to without their recommendations but it probably wouldn’t be as cool.

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