In the beginning of the semester I decided it was time for me to finally take guitar lessons. I had tried in the past to teach myself, but I couldn’t get past the beginner stage. So, when the opportunity arose to take guitar lessons through McGill’s mini courses I seized it and I was really looking forward to them. My instructor was Denis Chang, without a second-thought one of the most talented guitarists and gifted teachers I have ever seen. The man is the ideal teacher: he’s really experienced and knowledgeable, a master in his craft, supportive whenever you need him to be, extremely funny and quite the teaser. Besides, he has some of the coolest guitars I’ve seen. Going to his classes is a real joy. Lessons were held once a week for about two hours and initially there were around ten people registered for the course, but somehow he managed to give individual attention to each of us.
During the last three weeks, though, my coursework and the requirements of my research project didn’t allow much time for me to dedicate to my guitar. I had to skip my three last lessons, but I thought that most other students would attend. Today, which was the day of the last lesson, I decided to go meet Denis and tell him that he’s been a great teacher and he’s made me like the instrument much more. I discovered to my surprise (which is why I’m writing this post) that almost everyone in the class had been skipping the last lessons, just like me. I found Denis waiting for his students in the usual room where we practise (in the SSMU building) playing the piano and killing time. After feeling perplexed that I found none of my classmates there, I started feeling angry and disappointed. It was really depressing to see that one of the best teachers I’ve had was receiving this kind of treatment from his students — myself included, of course. He said that it’s OK, that it’s understandable because it’s the last week of classes and everyone is busy with course work, but that didn’t make me feel better at all. It didn’t seem fair to me that he wouldn’t receive an applause on the last lesson like all good teachers do.
I really like my coursework this semester, and my working hard for the moment is something that just feels right, because I’m doing it for myself and something that I enjoy doing. Yet, this was the first time since I’ve started at McGill that I’ve felt guilty about my efforts. I hope it’s the last. In the meantime, here’s what Denis can do: