You get what you pay for

November 22, 2007

I want to tell you about Martin. I don’t know how old he is, but I think he’s probably older than me. He has just become a grandfather, but he still looks very young, and is very young in the way he relates to people. He is enthusiastic and kind. He is also excellent at what he does. He is a musician and he plays violin, classical guitar and mandolin. He is also a music teacher.

Martin has inspired my children. My two youngest are learning to play the violin with him and my oldest is learning to play the guitar with him. Emma was the first to ask if she could take up an instrument. Martin runs group lessons at my children’s primary school and for the first year, Emma hired a violin from the school and went to a group lesson for twenty minutes once a week. She enjoyed it and took it seriously.

That was three years ago. She now has a private lesson with Martin in his own studio. Sally took up violin at the start of this year and also has a private lesson with Martin. When Kathleen expressed an interest to learn the guitar, Martin made a time to fit her in as well on the same day as the others. On Tuesdays the three of them have their lessons in half hour stints all in a row. So on Tuesdays, I pop in and out of Martin’s studio four times. We always chat while the children are setting up their instruments. He is always happy and has something interesting on the go. The children feel energised and encouraged by him too. He is a wonderful, gifted musician and individual.

Once I was leaving his studio and another parent arrived with her daughter, who is Emma’s age. I stopped to greet her. On this particular occasion it wasn’t long after Emma changed to individual lessons. She had been thriving and had expressed her appreciation for the opportunity to change from group to individual and to be learning in the serenity of his home rather than at school. I made a remark to the other parent, something like, Oh Emma is loving the individual lessons. Martin is wonderful isn’t he? Her reply to this was:

You get what you pay for.

I did not voice my opinion at the time. However, I certainly did not give any indication that I agreed with her. This particular statement I found insulting, to Martin and to my general philosophy on life. Who Martin is and what he gives to others is priceless.

Later, I wondered if she had passed her philosophy on to her children. I wondered how many people subscribed to it. I wondered if they also unthinkingly applied it to people. I wondered what it meant for society the way I thought I knew it.



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