“Mutual vulnerability is opened up when playing music together"
Laura Halsey, a South based music teacher tells us about a remarkable gesture of generosity in a time where the arts are being overlooked. Laura’s story signifies the importance of music for school students and the impact accessibility to the arts can have on someone’s day to day.
As a piano teacher, Laura takes time to ask her students how they are getting on. She has worked as a piano, singing and choir teacher since receiving a PGCE from Durham University. Laura tells us that whilst teaching students they sometimes “tell me things that they wouldn't necessarily open up to otherwise”. The creative space turns into a trusting environment where students of all ages can find solace and escapism from the worries of everyday life. The importance of the arts is exemplified in Laura’s teaching journey, she continually watches students grow with their own vulnerabilities, accepting mistakes and striving to overcome personal doubts and fears.
During one of Laura’s catch ups with a particular student, she discovered that they were having a difficult time during the lockdown period. Laura reports that the student’s personal difficulty has been an ongoing issue, and during an online piano lesson Laura discovered that the student was not looking forward to returning to school. The only solace the student had was knowing that they will be able to shut themselves in the music practice rooms at break and lunch
times. To “immerse herself in the soundscape of an acoustic piano”. Whilst practicing at home, the student has only had access to a digital piano which her parents have worked really hard to afford. Laura empathised with her student; the student’s emotional adversity is calmed by the time she spends playing the piano.
“The acoustic in that tiny practice room at school allows her to be herself for a little while and escape the chaos of the outside world”. As a lifelong avid musician Laura connected with this story, “I used to play piano during school lunchtimes as a girl”. After having heard this story, Laura shared it with her fellow music enthusiasts on her Facebook page. She expressed how music’s creative outlet can be a forum for mental health. The role of music educators is vital for
discussions such as this to exist. 116 other piano teachers liked or commented on
Laura’s Facebook post within a few days. Amongst the many comments, Mark
Goodwin from Mark Goodwin Pianos in Manchester commented on the post. He said her student's story touched him so much that he offered to give her an acoustic piano as a gift, deliver it from Manchester, install and tune it free of charge in her home. On the 27th February Laura had the pleasure of telling her
student the good news. “She was ecstatic. We both shed a tear, it was very emotional. This meant so much to her as it did to me. I see good things happening to my kind students and it inspires me onwards”. After speaking to Laura and reading her story, we contacted Mark Goodwin to get his opinion on the importance of students having access to music facilities. “Long before we had schools, classrooms and academia we had music, rhythm and dance. We hear too much about schools and governments trying to side-line the arts. If we
want happy children who grow up to be happy, productive adults, we have to properly invest in their artistic education”. Mark Goodwin has played piano from a
young age, and the instrument is at the centre of his work as he sells pianos all over the UK and Europe. You can find Mark at markgoodwinpianos.co.uk