I've been hearing a lot lately about superpowers. It must be a new thing in schools to boost self-esteem. It's come up multiple times in the past week leading me to write this post. My son mentioned that his son asked him what his superpower was. I heard it mentioned on the radio, and a young boy in one of my music classes asked me what mine was, telling me his own, too. I wasn't sure at first what everyone was talking about until I saw a billboard that read, "My superpower is ... I'm a PEF nurse." I thought, "Oh, okay. I get it now." My superpower is ... I'm a teaching musician. I know I have others, but that's the main one.
Many people don't realize how powerful that actually is. I can make people laugh or cry. I can get them to tap their feet or even move their whole bodies. I can help them find their voice, and I can help turn a terrible day around but most importantly, I can heal myself and have done that over and over again. I've said it before and will say it again, "Music saved my life." You may think I'm being over-dramatic, but I'm not. It really did ... in so many ways.
I grew up alone and afraid. I had no friends and was terrified of everything and everyone. There were some very good reasons for this, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that, when I was a child and played the piano, nothing was wrong, and I was safe. As a teen, when I became self-destructive, music and other musicians brought me around to loving life and looking forward to a long life of sharing that music with others. Music brought me friendships and love. It brought me travel and adventure. No matter what our differences, they all melt away in the presence of music. It saddens me to hear people say, "I can't sing." Or, "I'm too old to start playing an instrument now." If you can talk, you can sing. You may not feel as though you sing well, but it doesn't matter. And, you are never to old to learn an instrument. I once had a piano student who was 85 when she started. Her husband had just died, and she'd always wanted to learn to play. She learned slowly, but I filled her with praise and encouragement, and she learned to play the church music she loved. I started playing guitar when I was 40 and have learned mandolin, banjo and mountain dulcimer since then. I'm not a virtuoso, but I don't need to be, and neither do you. Making music is about having fun and sharing with others, heart-to-heart.
When I give lessons, the first thing I teach is how to play a song immediately. It may be two very simple chords, but they make up a song that you can feel good about. I don't focus on scales and theory until much later. I leave that to the better players. I like to teach the joy of playing. I like people to feel successful right away so that they continue. If they want to be a professional, then I'm not the right teacher, and I'm always very honest about that. But, if they want to have fun and be able to jam with others, I'm a good fit. That's my superpower. I can teach anyone, no matter how incapable they feel. I have limitless patience and can give tons of genuine encouragement.
So ... what is your superpower?