As a teacher I am on the lookout for opportunities my students might have to learn to play with others. Accompanying singing groups is such an opportunity that comes along too infrequently. I would love them all to learn this skill once they are intermediate pianists. This past year one of my students accompanied his early morning religion class when they sang together. He struggled to keep on beat but his peers gave him encouragement and over the year he learned many pieces.
One song, in particular, was very difficult and the object of learning it was to accompany a larger group at the closure of the school year. Observing him at the first rehearsal I noticed that he was steady but slower than the conductor. Thanks to patient adults, who want to see our youth grow, I observed his skill taking off as the pressure during rehearsal pushed him beyond his comfort zone. As his piano teacher, one on one, I would never be able to apply this positive pressure on him. At the final performance he soared and the conductor felt he was tuned into him completely. I listened as many people thanked him for his ability and commitment. There was a new confidence and an almost visual mantle fell across his shoulders. "I am a pianist."