Throughout life I have always found patience to be one of the hardest skills to master, yet one of the most important to equip oneself with. I believe that as we grow and have enduring experiences, we come to hone this skill and continue to develop our patience. As a 6-year-old, I started to learn how to play traditional Irish music, which has in many ways defined my life and teaching style. I started off by learning an instrument called the Tin Whistle, which consisted of 6 notes and a mouthpiece to modulate the flow of air and pitch of the sound. At first, just playing a single note without any squeaks or screeches was a difficult task. This was a true test of my patience and did not come naturally to me. I spent weeks just trying play a single unadulterated note, which was smooth and crisp. One day, I eventually managed to get it right, whilst sitting on the stairs of my childhood home. Slowly, I learned to play perfect notes in succession, and finally after months of practice I could play several simple tunes.
Years later, when I thought I had this mastered, I was introduced to an instrument called the Uilleann Pipes. It is similar to the Bag Pipes but lacks the mouthpiece and instead the bag is inflated with a bellows. When playing the Uilleann Pipes, I not only had to control the Tin Whistle like body, but also a bag, bellows and drones, which had to be coordinated alongside the basic playing of notes. If this did not test my patience, then I do not know what will!
It is said that the Uilleann Pipes take 21 years to master. I do not think that this is meant to be taken literally, but I believe that it is meant to express that one should always be open to learning and constantly try to improve themself. In teaching I have applied this philosophy and have always tried to improve my teaching skills through my experiences and by regularly reflecting on my progress. This experience has moulded the way in which I tutor and being patient is my Modus vivendi. To be a successful tutor and to ensure that a pupil can learn and benefit from your experience requires a huge amount of patience. Whenever I am teaching, I ensure that I do not move on or change topic until it is fully understood and that no questions remain. I manage to persevere with even the hardest lessons, as I understand how it feels to be a student and how difficult and challenging it could be at that age.
We must also be patient when dealing with others, which I have practised successfully with pupils’ parents who come from different walks of life. I hope to work together amidst knock-backs and failures, and I believe in my students to do better and become well-rounded people. One must remember, the best things in life really do come to those who wait!