Overreaching, much?

So I played the piano in public for the first time today. That is, in front of more than a few people. I’m not much of a pianist — invariably, I stumble; chalk it up to a lack of perseverance and stubby fingers, as well as a lifelong habit of stumbling. The only reason why I thought I’d be able to do it ‘properly’ this time was because it was in the context of the worship team at the Chinese church I’m attending in HK — for the smaller youth service, at that.

I was frantically, and then not so frantically, practising away the past few days. Through having to make up the accompaniment for the melodies, I realised that I am a cheesy music-maker. That is, my playing betrays a lack of skill and imagination. (Actually, I first realised this years back, when I thought up a half-baked arrangement for JQ, and of course through the years and years of ABRSM-isery.)

Then Sunday morning came, and I scraped through by the grace of God and His provision of a last-minute guitarist and an experienced, patient and polite worship leader. Thank God!!! (Also for there being fewer kids cos of the mid-autumn festivities, and that the resident super-pianist wasn’t there to overawe me.) So many mistakes and fumbles, covered over by solid guitar-ing that buoyed me through. And I also thank God I didn’t run away screaming. And that no one groaned out loud in disgust. (Except me, inwardly.) I’m mostly frustrated at myself, as I should have done better — is this all I can offer as a sacrifice of praise? Must. Try. Harder.

After being warned against the terrible danger of reaching for a position that I’m not naturally equipped for, e.g., wanting to be a teacher without having any talent for it, I’ve been viewing all and any opportunities coming my way with a critical eye. I’m no stranger to embarrassing myself, really, so it’s not about the shame of failure, initial or extended. It’s about the fear of failing to see my limitations clearly.

Apart from this worship team thing, which isn’t even monthly, thank God again, I’m trying out teaching English to some youths at the church — may God be with them in these dark times. Now that I’ve sort of confirmed that I’m not naturally made for playing piano for worship, I’m quite worried for those kids, that they’re going to be the ‘way’ by which I find out I’m not naturally made for teaching, either. (Actually, I might have discovered that with the first and last tuition lesson I ever gave, years back …)

Anyone with tips for leading worship and/or teaching youths English as a second/third language, let me know!!! Already had the first lesson, in which (thanks to good advice from a colleague) I got them to introduce themselves and each other. Then found out that a concurrent class did way more with their time, oo-er. Set homework was a one-minute presentation on an English movie or book (um). Good grief, what am I doing?

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3 thoughts on “Overreaching, much?

  1. I think you wouldn’t make a half-bad teacher at all….you’ve got the truckloads of enthusiasm and the skillz can be picked up along the way.

    Did you know that the (erstwhile) Queen of Darkness is teaching at your, ahem, alma mater? (By that I mean the now oddly-named HCI, not the Smurf Skool.)

    The job’s filled with so many who’re in there solely to kill time/make $$, I think it could do with more genuine specimens.

    Are you considering teaching for real (as in MOE-type teaching) or was it just in the context of this English thing?

  2. Hey Bee,
    I hadn’t heard from you for so long that I was wondering if you were okay.

    Sounds like the piano playing went well – I think you must have been far better than the way you portray it! :)

    And as for teaching, you love the students and that’s the most important part done! The next is to arm yourself with a few techniques. You could borrow some ELT books, that would equip you. Alternatively, you could find out what the students need most, e.g. oral practice? vocab building? Then split each lesson up into sections, so for example in a 1-hour lesson, you could have:
    – 10 minutes: a wee ice-breaker first where you get the students to do an activity that’s fun but gets them to talk
    – 10 minutes: review of what they learnt last week / present homework
    – 20 minutes: vocab building, including presenting it to them, them practicing it before incorporating it into real-life situations
    – 20 minutes oral practice

    Something like that? Tim and I have a bank of oral games up our sleeves, so let us know if you would like any. Wouldn’t like to appear bossy! :)

  3. E. Coleslaw, is the QoD you speak of CPL? Or Mrs N? Anyway, thanks for the kind words, but I don’t think I’m very good with the teaching thing — feels more like bleating when I do it.

    Feistyheroine, yeah, I’m OK, just had some technical issues lately w.r.t. my MacBook Pro (did you know that CM got herself a MacBook?). The piano playing was only saved by Paul, who was surely an angel sent by God. Thanks for the tips w.r.t. to teaching — will add them to the list I’ve been gathering from the office! Not much time for games at the moment, though, as I only have an hour with the kids, though I did have a few minutes’ warm-up in the second lesson that they seemed to enjoy.

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