FREE GUITAR LESSONS
Using a dry erase marker, I wrote it on a sheet in my notebook. I held the page up high for people to see. Few people looked; and of those who did, most looked with nothing more than incredulity. I sat there with my sign and guitars for about four hours. I gave lessons to a handful of people and earned eight dollars.
On Thursday, I wrote FREE GUITAR LESSONS across two adjacent sheets of paper in my notebook, which I then placed on a music stand. I gave a few more lessons, met park employees and pedicab drivers, and had a good time; but only earned 5 dollars. Was this sustainable? I wasn’t sure, but I knew that my trial period was not yet over.
I went back out on Friday and Saturday and did much better. I started busking between lessons. By the end of my first week I had earned about $70. I was feeling a bit more confident, but still not sure this was sustainable. I would sit with students for fifteen minutes, a half hour, even two whole hours! But get tipped one dollar. Did these people not understand the value of a guitar lesson? Nobody in Manhattan would teach a private guitar lesson for less than $50! I was offering free (donations based) lessons and hardly earning enough to buy a couple gumballs.
“I’m trying!” I complained to a student, probably about my age. He understood what I was trying to do and sympathized with my frustration. Another man who had overheard part of our conversation approached and said, “well, that’s your problem! When you try you put a burden on yourself. You need to stop trying so hard and just DO."
It wasn’t anything I hadn’t heard before, but somehow it made so much more sense when he said it. I’ve resolved not to say “try” anymore. I’m striking it from my existential vocabulary.
I’ve stated that these lessons aren’t for me or even for the students. They are for God and Her glory. Even so, the past two weeks have been a complete blessing to me. I wake up daily with a prayer of thanksgiving for another day. I have learned to count every dollar earned, every meal, every ride on the subway, every moment spent with friends, and every last song as a precious blessing. This is part of the payment I receive, part of the bounty God blesses me with, the return on my existential investment in the Kingdom; my countless students receive lessons, a new hobby, achievement, listening ears, and a joyful servant; and my prayer is that God gets the utmost glory and joy as She watches Her children learning, playing, smiling - and, best of all, forsaking the god$ of this world for That of the next.