All of us want to fit somewhere. Some find their tribe early on. Others think they found their cool kid’s table but then they move on (or people move on without them). For years, I grappled with “Where do I belong?” The answer hit me a few years ago yet I still tried to convince myself otherwise.
I belong as a teacher.
One of my students asked me “What made you want to be a teacher?” And my answer was pretty direct: “I always liked inspiring people.” Problem is, when you play a club or bar, nobody goes to figure out if my licks were from a Rush record or a Shawn Lane transcription. They go to, well, get drunk. Nothing wrong with that. But after years of hearing “Play something I like” or “Play a song I know”, it got very draining.
I have been teaching for almost 27 years. I was solely giving private lessons for years while working either in retail (ugh) or in an office (ugh x 2) When I was fired from my last job in 2015, I could breathe again and finally find my bliss (my friend Glenn always said that). But even when I began teaching in the music store, a part of me was still “You need to be a guitar god!” Played more clubs, opened for nationals, but what did I accomplish?
But when a student’s eyes light up over learning a G chord, or lately learning “Master Of Puppets” (thank you Eddie Munson), THAT’S where I truly belong. My students want to learn; patrons in a club don’t. But that’s not to say that I don’t enjoy performing again after taking time away. I just don’t feel this pressing need to ALWAYS be playing live. My trio has played only two shows this year, and both were absolutely killer. Even so, when I sit in the studio, or in someone’s home, and start spewing out music theory or how to play a Green Day song, that’s where I truly shine. My students pick up on the enthusiasm and run with it. They can’t wait to learn something. I’ve even had some students say “I wish you were my music teacher in my school, you’re so chill.”
I wish I had a chill music teacher as a kid. So I became the person that I wanted to meet as a teenager.
And I’m still an eternal teenager 😉