The Little Ones are no longer so little. “The Little Ones” was the name given to the class of five and six year olds that I started two summers ago.

“I’m five,” said one child to another one afternoon as two Little Ones passed in the sunroom in between lessons. Stating their age was their way of announcing their geographical coordinates in the universe. “Would you like to pet this cat?” one kid offered to another, pointing at Godiva who had innocently walked into the room. “OK,” said the other small child. Godiva took one look at the situation and bolted.

Godiva wasn’t the only creature to take notice of the Little Ones. When the Little Ones first appeared in the studio even my self-absorbed mid-high and high school students came out of their hormonal fog long enough to observe the small children underfoot in the sunroom. “Those little kids are super cute,” they’d tell me trying not to trip over the tiny children. “Remember when you were their age?” I ask them. “Remember when your whole piano life was ‘Oh Purple Sage’?” “Rote songs,” one senior sighed at my mention of ‘Oh Purple Sage.’ “I miss rote songs.”

At first the Little Ones wanted to learn everything. Right now. “Look,” I said to one chatty kid, “you have a lot to say and I have a lot to teach you. How’s this working out?”

“Today can I learn eighth notes?” he interrupted. I don’t know where he heard that term. An older piano-playing sibling perhaps? “And can I learn 10 new pages in my book?” continued the stream of consciousness or rather, the stream of enthusiasm. “And can I please know about that one note with a line through it? Please, Miss Amy, please?”

They were very enthusiastic, those Little Ones. “I know that song!” one announced when I played “Jesus Loves Me” for her to identify as part of an ear-training exercise. “It is ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’!” “Close,” I told her. “Really, really close.”

This spring, for a few brief days until one had a birthday, all four Little Ones were eight years old. These days Little Ones have left behind so many of the early tasks of learning to be pianists. They have graduated from note flashcards. They have passed their first and second levels of method books. The no longer need rote songs in order to have an interesting recital piece to play. They are quite willing to shout down a bigger kid when it comes time to play Name That Tune. “No way did Bach write symphonies. I KNOW THIS IS SCHUBERT’S UNFINISHED SYMPHONY.” (“Wow,” says Matt after overhearing a rowdy performance class. “That was loud.”)

In spite of their nomenclature, the Little Ones no longer identify as being a part of the Little Ones at all. In fact, we have a whole new group of little ones who have joined the studio this summer. These new little ones are so little I have had to dig out additional books to add to the pile to prop under their feet. I’ve had to remind myself of all those early rote pieces like “Oh Purple Sage” and “Desert Rose.” I’ve had to revisit those early pedagogical drills like naming notes based on my made-up Piano Town (F=front door. B=Back Door. D=Dog…). In May, I graduated and said goodbye to three seniors, sending them off into the world for their next adventures. It seems like just yesterday when those three comprised of a class of Little Ones. All these changes simultaneously leave and fill holes both in the studio and in my teaching life. Sometimes it feels like I am standing still, practicing and teaching year after year, while the world rushes past me.

But regardless of whether or not we are ready, the torch has been passed. “You’ll have to be the leaders in performance class this year,” I told one former Little One last week.

“Miss Amy,” she responded, obviously having given the situation a great deal of thought, “little kids can’t read these cards.” She pointed at the Name That Tune cards identifying composers and various pieces of music. “They might need some help from us. I can read.” She told me. “I can help.”