Saturday, November 14, 2009


I teach piano to a 70 year-old Vietnamese man. I know that sounds like the title of a book, but it's true. I go to his house every Saturday morning, and we do piano together. In fact, it's a little different than any other piano students. Most of my other students are between the ages of 7 and 12, with the exception of a couple teenagers. I really like them all, and enjoy our lessons. But, with them we are working through a piano method book. They play the songs in the books, and as we come upon a new concept, I explain how it works, then they practice that in the next song.

Mr. Le is different. When he and I do piano, I just go and wait for him to ask questions. He ALWAYS has a question, and he dutifully takes notes. In fact, often he has more questions than we have time for in our half-an-hour lesson. He always serves me tea, and it is a very quiet time. I've really come to enjoy the different approach, and it keeps me on my toes. I never know what is coming, and often I have to distill a college Music Theory concept down to something he can understand, and then put it into simple English.

I was just thinking this morning about how I admire his determination. He often says that he will continue to learn, and become a better pianist until he dies, whenever that will be. Last year we stopped lessons for several months, because he was ill and in the hospital. He had pneumonia and a collapsed lung. Even now he's on oxygen, and seems pretty frail, compared to when I first met him. Nevertheless, we still do piano. He still asks questions, and is very eager to learn. Last week he said when he feels better how would like to do an hour lesson so he can learn more.

Just wanted to point out that the thirst for knowledge can never be satisfied. Make sure you have something you want to learn about, and your spirit will continue to grow vibrant, even as you body winds down its time here.

1 comment:

  1. Oooooooh chills- really. I think your Mr. Le sounds like someone I would like to know. I bet you learn as much from him as he does from you. Thanks for sharing... I'm inspired to go learn something! ;)