Around The Yard: Christine Lin

New to in 2014-15, "Around The Yard: Life As A Harvard Student-Athlete" will explore what life is like away from the playing fields for select Harvard student-athletes through their own first-person narrative. For a full list of blog entries, click here.

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Christine Lin
April 21, 2015

Just having played two golf tournaments the past few weeks in Mississippi and California, the women’s golf team is back in Cambridge gearing up for Ivy Championships next week. We also have all been doing a wonderful job keeping up with our academic work (sometimes even getting ahead) as problem sets, papers, and second round midterms come around.

On top of balancing golf and academics, I have recently been thinking about the relationships with people that I have gained from: my family, friends, the team, and the community near and far. Learning from others about the person I seek to become and the way I hope to affect relationships is not always smooth sailing though. Many times, growth happens through some type of discomfort and struggle with self or others.

I am part of PBHA Harmony, a mentorship program that allows Harvard students with a musical background to give lessons to a middle school or high school student. I currently teach piano to a junior in high school. Teaching my student piano comes with ease and difficulty at the same time. I feel comfortable with our mentor-mentee relationship because I have known her for two years and have given her lessons every Saturday since the day we met. With this ease and routine schedule, however, can also come challenges: the way I relay information to her can become sloppy, my patience with her can waiver more, and my sensitivity towards her hardships can seem more removed.

We have been working on the piano solo version of “Winter” from The Four Seasons by Vivaldi for a few months. On some Saturday’s, she does well with the tempo, articulation, dynamic markings, and note-reading. Other times, she exhibits frequent pauses, note mistakes, and a lack of attention to the expression markings. Developing a one-on-one relationship with someone that continually grows in a healthy and positive way requires a balancing of forces. In the lessons where she makes more mistakes, it is easy for me to develop rash judgements in the way I believe she should approach her challenges. It is also easy for me to project expectations from my own childhood piano experiences onto her. Yet, none of these actions would foster an encouraging environment with her that I seek to produce.

Working with someone who comes from a different background, is four years younger, and has less musical exposure than me requires a sympathetic role on my part. It requires me to view her interest in music now and what it can shape into from her own shoes. I believe that a healthy relationship is only possible when I, to the best of my ability, understand the circumstances she deals with as a teenager, allow her to share her perspective on what music means to her, and have her direct her own progress. My goal is to be more of a facilitator in this sense, listening to what she wants and tending to her needs. I will structurally put into place whatever it is she wants possible, but I will still interject if I truly feel her approach can be detrimental to her growth as a whole.

My student has re-defined the way I view progress. Her progress is not and does not have to be related to my personal view of success. More importantly, it reflects her own definition of expression and colors that music can bring into her life, and I am thrilled to be part of the journey in which she discovers that for herself. Through my interactions with her, I have learned not only more about the way she wants to direct her musical passion, but also the way I can foster a healthy environment and be a supportive force in her life. I hope to take the experiences I have gained and apply them to other relationships I have with the diverse Harvard student body and people close to me. I believe we can all learn from our daily interactions with the people around us, whether or not they seem brief or trivial, to shape us into the people we are now and down the road.