We are music teachers, artists, gymnasts, dancers and martial artists. What do we have in common? Our students. Young and old alike, they come with open minds and open hearts to learn. The also come with a support system of family and friends that form their community and thus, become part of our community. Whether its for a performance or an exhibition, an opening or a competition, we bring people together in celebration of our common passions.
One of the central goals of my program is to “create the good citizens of the world”. Am I looking to create a whole cadre of professional musicians? No. I value the process of learning music as much as I value the outcome. The confidence our students develop, the pride they feel, and their ability to find and share beauty changes me. The dedication and day after day hard work I see inspires me. When asked “how can you teach Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star AGAIN”? I always reply, I am never teaching the same piece because every time I connect with a student and teach them a song, it is a new and exciting experience.
Every fall we run a 4-part series for parents. It is a time for them meet and connect with each other, to ask questions without their child present, and to learn practical skills for successfully supporting their child at home. In the first class I always ask the question, “how do you see music in your child’s life when they are 30?”. The answers vary. But I am awed by the conversation it elicits. Some hope their children will still play their instruments as amateurs or professionals, others hope that they will have been given a love of music and an appreciation for beauty. Most often I hear that they see how studying music helps in every aspect of their child’s education. From learning the times tables, to working hard on left-hand basketball dribbling, to memorizing and giving a presentation in front of their classmates, these parents can see how the skills developed while practicing are the same skills we need and use everyday. When I hear and participate in the conversation I am honored to work with their children. I know that I have communicated the goals of our program well and am working with a community that values what we have to offer.
So I ask, “what are the goals of YOUR program”? Have you thought about why you teach and what you hope to see for your students? Are you a professional training program? Do you have a speciality, a preferred age range, a required time/class commitment? Have you communicated your goals effectively in your program or school? Are you meeting the needs of your participants? And does your program satisfy your goals as a professional? It’s an interesting discussion to have with your community and one that will lead to less conflict and better student retention. The extra time spent “getting on the same page” is entirely worth it.