In a handwritten letter from a former student remembering her band experience, she wrote that, “It is more than just about music.” She attributed the life-skills she learned in band (time management, team building, respect for authority, commitment, self-discipline….) to have been major factors in her success in college, medical school and life.
In a Facebook message, a Music Education major wrote;
“I just wanted to take a moment to thank you again and again for steering me in the right path, MUSIC! You are one of the greater influences in my life… If it was not for you acquiring the scholarship for me to take lessons … then I would not be in the position I am in now. I would not be the player I am today nor would I have had all of the musical experiences and opportunities that I do have. YOU did that for me, YOU! How do you properly thank someone who changed the course of your life? I can’t….there is no way I will ever be able to give you the thanks that you really deserve, for the potential you saw in me, for the care you gave me, for the trust you put in me, and for the time and energy you invested in me! That is absolutely amazing and something I will NEVER forget. I hope you realize how special, unique, and loved you are by so many. …you changed a life…MINE. You will always have a very special place in my heart for what you’ve done.”
In a blog comment to a post I called, “I Want To Trust You”, another former student wrote;
I’m remembering a little white lie that Tina and I told you just to get out of class for a minute or two……..Unfortunately, you found out about it. I’ve never felt so guilty as when I was caught tricking YOU! You were the TEACHER to go to when things weren’t going ok. And a trusted teacher…….I was SO sorry!”
Four days before Christmas, I received a text message from a then senior,
“G, I just got kicked out of my house. Please help me!”
I share these correspondences to make several points. I utilize a variety of technologies in communicating, informing, teaching and mentoring. I have earned my students’ trust and they are comfortable coming to me in times of crisis outside the subject I teach.
A major role of a music facilitator is to provide a safe, encouraging environment where students can discover and experience the mechanical fundamentals of music theory and performance so that they can understand a composer’s intentions and add their personal interpretation and emotion into turning written music into audio (sometimes visual) art while always striving for a higher level of excellence.
Teaching, however, is about more than “just” the academics and artistic value of music. Students are so much more than instruments into which we are supposed to dump vast amounts of knowledge. I want to help students realize a love and appreciation for the art of music that they can utilize as a performer or audience member for the rest of their lives. I want to earn their admiration and respect so that they will trust that I am more than just a knowledge provider. I want them to see me as a mentor who cares as well as a proficient musician and life coach. I want to provide a safe environment that maintains the level of control necessary in a music ensemble while also encouraging emotional and artistic expression and contribution. I want them to learn from what I show them, from each other, from competitive experiences as well as from their mistakes along the way. I want them to desire and strive for excellence in music and in everything they do. I want them to appreciate their community and to want to give back to those whose support they need and have enjoyed — with entertaining performances and projects.