“When words fail, music speaks,” are the words sewn into a pillow given to Ana Rodriguez as a gift from one of her piano students. Rodriguez has shared her love of music free of charge for more than a decade, teaching piano lessons to nearly 60 students ranging from 4 to 18 years old.
Music was a family affair from a very young age for Rodriguez, a senior auditor with the Office of Trade Regulatory Audit. She played the piano and the flute, her mother sang in the church choir, her father played the guitar, and her brother played the drums. Her grandfather would bring music books from Mexico with lyrics in Spanish. She was able to read music and play songs although she did not understand the lyrics, making her grandfather smile and sing along. Rodriguez realized at that young age that a specific language was not important – music was universal and transcended any language.
When she moved to Washington eight years ago from California, word of mouth brought her new students eager to learn how to play the piano. Rodriguez takes great pride in seeing her students flourish and blossom and believes their success and happiness is her reward.
“I not only wanted to take lessons and perform, but I also always wanted to give back and do that for somebody else,” said Rodriguez. “And I don’t have any kids – I like kids – so why don’t I teach kids?”
Not only does she feel a deep sense of connection with her students, but they have come to trust her as a confidant. Some of her students are now in college but keep in touch. Two former students who share her love of music are in training with Rodriguez to also teach piano lessons.
“Just being able to be there for them as a mentor, not just a teacher, is what motivated me to use my skills and give back to kids that might need an extra-curricular activity and something they take pride in,” Rodriguez said.
She even found a solution to keep the music lessons and her students’ progress moving forward during the years when social distancing measures were in place. Rodriguez would first record herself playing the melody and would provide a link at the beginning of the Zoom session so the student could play the audio from their computer and listen to the melody uninterrupted. Though daily interactions halted, the music did not.
When asked what her greatest reward is, Rodriguez said it’s seeing the pure joy in the faces of her students once they get their “gold star” for mastering a melody. It is something that brings her immense happiness.
Rodriguez, who may possibly open a music studio someday, has no plans to stop teaching piano and will continue to share her love of music with children and teens, one lesson at a time.