1. Minnie Mouse: Minnie has a very high sqeaky voice and asks countless questions. Much of what she says goes up in tone at the end, so even her statements sound like questions. She is also very easily distracted by any bright shiny objects in the room.
Minnie: “So I practiced a lot this week? It was fun. Can I learn a new song? I picked this one?” She is a little beginner, but she came with several recordings of songs that she wanted to learn. They were advanced classical pieces by Liszt, Beethoven, and Mozart, some of which took me months to learn at the height of my music life. “Pleeeeeeeeeeeasqueak?” she pleaded, “Pleeeeeease can I learn it? I want to learn one by next Thursday? There’s a school concert, and I want to be really good.”
Me (not wanting to crush her spirit): “Well, Minnie, you’ll definitely play these songs at some point, but I think you need to learn some other ones first as a bridge in between.”
Minnie (determined): “What if I practice 7 hours a day? I’ll do it! I’m sure I can learn it by Thursday. Pleeeeeeeeasqueak?”I ended up letting her start Bach’s Ave Maria, the easiest of her selections, but enough above her level to keep her happy. She didn’t have it ready for the next Thursday, but she has been learning it amazingly fast.
2. Todd the Terrible: I was told before taking him on that he is a wicked and lazy child (who lies and steals), that I must treat him harshly because he is so bad, and give him pages and pages and pages of homework. I discovered that he is not evil, but he does manage (despite my best efforts) to make poop, pee, barf, or farting a central theme in all his writing assignments. He told me once about the time he “accidentally licked a horse.”
3. Abigail: As cute and perfect as a china doll, she thrilled in saying “no” to my every request, tilting her tiny chiselled chin in the opposite direction, shaking her little curls, and sticking her button nose in the air. Every lesson was a deathly power struggle between us until I one day threatened to send her back to her parents. Her rosebud lips quivered, and her sea-blue eyes swam with tears of deep hurt. So I let my own lips wobble and pretended to boo-hoo as well. She understood that I was onto her tricks and began to laugh wickedly, and then……to play!
4. Tiny Tim: is the even tinier brother of Tiny Ana. So tiny, in fact, that he looks like a little mouse sitting on the piano stool. He giggles all the time as though everything I say is simply hilarious.
5. Josh and Jim: They are identical twin brothers. Black and six-years old, they are so cute, that I have to think of sad things before each lesson so that the sheer cute-ness does not overwhelm me. I had to teach them both how not to fall off the piano bench (this is a common weakness in my littlest students). What worked best was when I said that if they fell off the bench again, the sharks swimming around would eat them. They liked that and didn’t fall off any more.