112 – Ponderings on Piano Teacher “Friends”

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Episode Summary

Ponderings on how we use the term “friend” within the context of our relationships with each other in the piano teacher community.


Items Mentioned





I’m Amy Chaplin, and you’re listening to episode 112 of The Piano Pantry Podcast.

Today’s episode is being produced in the heart of the 2024 Music Teachers National Conference. I packed my trusty Blue Yeti microphone, sat in my purple hotel room chair, and recorded way.

Today, we’re talking about the term “friends” and how we use it in context with each other in our piano teacher community.

This episode topic has been floating around in my brain off and on for months. I’ll admit I’ve felt a little unsure of it for three reasons.

First, I wasn’t sure I had enough to say on it or whether it was worthy of an episode; second, I didn’t want it to sound like I was throwing anyone under the bus who might use the term friends a lot, and third, I absolutely don’t want it to be taken the wrong way or make me seem standoffish because that is not me at all. I value deep connection.

Being at the conference these last few days, though, really brought these ruminations to the forefront and I wanted to act on it before I chickened out.

So, here are my ponderings on piano teacher friends.

Maybe I’m just imagining it, or am just hyper-aware because I’ve been ruminating on the word, but over the last few years—perhaps as we become more engaged with each other online—I feel like I’ve noticed the word “friend” used a whole lot more among our online piano teacher community.

Sometimes I use it in greeting when writing to those on my email list, but not always. I have to admit every time I write it – it’s not that I don’t feel genuine, but a tiny little thought escapes my mind, wondering if it is indeed the way to greet a large group of people – many of whom I don’t even know or at least have never even met in person.

Part of good online content is making a deep personal connection, and I believe in that greatly – but I was feeling a bit unsure of whether or not I was allowing myself to use a term that seemed like it should have a very special context and meaning in too loose of a way.

By the way, I don’t usually verbalize this, but if you are interested in subscribing to keep up to date on all things Piano Pantry-related, visit PianoPantry.com/subscribe.

So, what does it mean to call someone a friend? Is it merely a label we assign to those we know casually, or does it carry deeper significance? I’ve always considered it leaning more toward the latter – looking at the word friend or friendship as relating to someone more than just an acquaintance – someone who I “do life with” sharing joys, sorrows, and more.

Of course, as you might expect, I realized I needed to look beyond my own visions of the definition, so I turned to the Internet for more clarity.

Vocabulary.com says, “A friend is your buddy, your pal, your amigo, your comrade. Someone you trust and like enough to hang out with on a regular basis.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a friend as “a person with whom one has developed a close and informal relationship of mutual trust and intimacy; (more generally) a close acquaintance.

Britannica says a friend is “a person who you like and enjoy being with or a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)

Dictionary.com calls it “a person whom one knows and with whom one has a bond of mutual affection. It also states that it is often used as a polite form of address to an acquaintance or a stranger one comes across.

Merriam-Webster states it as “one attached to another by affection or esteem.” It also mentions the definition as used in the context of social media, which is “a person included in a list of one’s designated connections.” So, ultimately Facebook added a verb form of what used to only be a noun.

Did you notice none of these definitions attached literal, physical space to the definition? There are phrases like “someone you trust and like,” “mutual affection,” and polite address.”

Even the phrase “hang out with on a regular basis” can be somewhat vague. It doesn’t have to be someone you hang out with literally on a regular basis.

I think about you – I hang out with you on a regular basis, and you hang out here with me each week on a regular basis. We don’t necessarily interact directly in time, but we are connected. While I can’t have direct personal affection for those I don’t necessarily know, I have a strong affection for you as my audience and colleagues as a whole.

This week has brought me an overwhelming amount of affection, joy, and gratitude for this community and the connection that we have, even in the smallest ways. I can’t tell you how many beautiful little heart moments I had when I saw people walk into a conference room that I had never met in person and yet knew them the moment they entered, like Christina Mathis, Tara Mock, Megan Desmarais, Elizabeth Davis-Everhart, Holly Hornyan, and so many more.

While I have real-life friends who live in the same town as me, I also enjoy the rich friendship of the tiny little connections with you all as well whether its those small connections online or more personal interactions on a regular basis.

While it was easy to name names of those who I have known online but never met in person, I almost started naming names of some of those deeper real-life piano teacher friends that I have regular connections to even if it’s just been once or twice a year for years on end – but I realized the list was too long and I didn’t want to leave anyone out. I’ll just say – you know who you are and I value you, friend.

Ultimately, the term “friend” can carry a variety of meanings within different contexts. As I suspected, I was overthinking it a bit, but it still felt good to spend a little brain power considering my own use of the word and consulting the actual definitions.

So, let’s cherish all these little friendships and work to cultivate meaningful connections with those around us whether that be in a present physical space, the online social space, or this space here.

If you would like to cultivate your connection within the Piano Pantry friend space, be sure and follow me on Instagram at PianoPantryAmy or on Facebook at Piano Pantry.

You can also be a friend of this content by joining me on Patreon or by leaving a rating and review of the podcast. Visit PianoPantry.com/patreon for details

Thanks for putting up with my random little pondering, friends and I’ll see you next week!