Writing music for a special student

I have a favourite student. She has multiple learning challenges, but I know she loves her piano lesson.

I’ve started to write music for her, big illustrations with watercolour pictures. We talk about a topic, like what she eats for breakfast, then we choose the lyrics together. At home, I get the paints out and turn her lesson into a picture with big notation. She can’t play more than one note in each hand because only a couple of fingers work, but we can play chords with a finger from each hand.

I like to draw and paint, it’s therapeutic! I’m not brilliant, but okay. I also love the look of music notation. Sometimes I can’t believe that I learned this special code of dots and squiggles over a lifetime, and really quite well, if I say so myself.

The time spent doing this clearly outweighs what I earn from it. But the student is so appreciative, when even getting to my studio is a challenge for her, especially in the unrelenting Queensland heat. But she arrives smiling, and makes me feel like everything I do with her is gold. It is literally priceless.

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