[Author’s note:] We all know there is no guaranteed “instant success” formula in the field of music education. Everyone has to go through a pathway of self-discovery, and it is often not an easy journey. Our colleges and universities continue to prepare some of the finest aspiring young artists who have indicated they want to commit their lives to the world of band/choir/orchestra education. While some of these candidates do become lifetime members of the music world, far too many leave the teaching ranks after a very short tenure. WHY? After many personal interviews (with some of many of these one/two year veterans), it is apparent their choice to seek-a-new-career had little to do with their love of music, but rather with their perceived sense of ineffectiveness in dealing with the overwhelming “off the podium” responsibilities. In most cases the beginning educator felt well prepared to embrace the rigors of “teaching music,” and – in fact – pointed to this aspect of the teaching schedule as the best part of the school day. However, dealing with all else was simply more than they could bear…and, sadly, the passion for teaching music became secondary to vocational survival.
We have discovered there are many who have profited from a close association with a seasoned teacher who assumes the role of a mentor, a guide, a coach, a trusted listener, a loyal friend, etc. With this option at hand, the new teacher has a reliable source-of-information offering a tried-and-proven set of possible answers to a myriad of questions. Those who have been to the well have much valid advice to bring to the forum, and in many cases it has been the saving factor.
Please read the following thoughts knowing the data is derived from
“observing” many of the finest master teachers in the profession. By no means will a bird’s eye view of five select cornerstone success-components shift the course of anyone’s teaching habits, but it can alert the reader to the opportunities possible in every musical teaching/learning environment.
By definition: CORNERSTONE
- something that is essential, indispensable, or basic.
- the chief foundation on which something is constructed or developed.
Why do we teach music? It is one the first philosophical inquiries serving as an introductory question for every music education student, and it is also one we all must revisit time-and-time again. Countless books, essays, and research documents have been devoted to this important query, and – perhaps – our challenge is to recognize the collective value of all these important contributions, and through this process we then develop and create our own sense of purpose.
We are educating students in the realm of music literacy so they can connect to and tap the unlimited potential of their creative minds. Our educational goal is to teach the mastery of musical skills, so our students can access quality music and experience the joy of an ever-evolving sense of aesthetic expression.
There are certainly many spin-off benefits garnered by the students who are involved in music learning and music making. By being in a first class music program, they develop better organizational abilities, they learn the value of teamwork, they have the opportunity to test their leadership talents, and they embellish many life skills that will serve them in every aspect of their personal and professional journey. These are ALL positive by-products generated via the music ensemble experience, HOWEVER they do not constitute the fundamental WHY of our efforts-and-energies.