A few days ago, one of my former private teachers passed away at too young an age. I went through several very difficult experiences during the time I studied with him. While his musical influence was immeasurable, his personal influence was certainly one of the reasons I made it through those dark days with my sanity and faith intact.
It was just four years. How long will some of my piano students study with me? In the years that I’ve been teaching, I’ve had students who have been through parents divorcing, custody disputes, the deployment of military parents, deaths of family members, transfers between foster families, and who knows what all else that I haven't been aware of. I’m in no way qualified to be a counselor to them when they go through these things, but I know first-hand the immense value of communicating that I care deeply about them and the things that affect them. Sometimes it’s easy to forget that the product of our teaching is not an ephemeral musical performance, but a person who is richer for having played it.
It's actually quite frequent that I am the only adult who spends one-on-one time with a child other than his parents. What a huge responsibility. We are crafting souls, for good or bad, whether we plan to or not.