“The real measure of a teacher is what we give students that lasts them the rest of their lives.” – Rafe Esquith
Teaching music in the schools is a rewarding experience. Yet, the profession comes with benefits and frustrations. No matter what your training is, you will experience the wonderful and frustrating sides of being a music teacher. No matter what your qualifications are, it will take understanding about the personal side about working with kids to be a great music teacher.
Why I Teach Music in The Schools
I have just had the best and most rewarding week. I have had some of my former students come back to visit. It is funny how you make goals for your students when they are younger. Once they are on their own they make their own choices. Different from your plans. But still somehow with the influence you have provided. One of my very close students moved to a different state and is now in college. She came to visit and we were able to schedule a dinner together. We talked about different things of our lives, how things have changed, what things have stayed the same. She shared her rather winding road in finding what her real calling is. We got to talk about the fact that life never goes in a “straight direction”. This made me realize so much about the teaching profession itself.
At the end of this December I had the most frustrating weeks. We have been going through some personal changes at my school. The staff meetings were simply exhausting both physically and emotionally. I was have the days all teachers have. The days you just don’t want to teach in the schools anymore. As I was walking down toward my car, I heard someone calling my name. A student of mine who graduate the previous year had stopped by to say hello. Suddenly it all made sense! The smile on that student’s face erased everything else that happened that day. It was worth it!
To me, it is my students who come back to see me that validates why I teach in the schools. As teachers we all want the best for our students. We all hope that they will go into life becoming good people. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a student whose life you have touched.
Teaching music is about making a connection!
As strict as I am and as much as I want my students to be the best in music, somehow the many scales and etudes that I was giving did not matter. There is a bigger picture of young adults who are developing who they are as people. Teaching is about being a mentor before you teach your subject. Students will learn more from you only if they feel connection. If there is an element of a personal connection which a child feels toward you, then they will truly follow what you teach. Then your content becomes very easy.
So….Should You Become a Music Teacher?
- You need to want to make a connection. As much as we need to read about standardized testing, there is nothing standardized about educating a child. Whether your subject is the arts, math, science or a different subject, you would need to make a connection with the child first if you want them to understand what you are teaching. If that’s not the case, then don’t teach!
- Teaching is about being flexible. With the best of teachers, things don’t always go the way they want. A child may take a different path. A different child can suddenly surprise you with their choices! If you are happier being in a predictable situation, then don’t teach!
- You will get hurt more than rewarded. I had a mentor who used to say “You will be falling flat on your face many times before you become a great teacher”. Well, he was right! If you want your feelings safe and protected….well…consider not teaching in the public schools environment!
- Teaching music in schools will take not only a lot of your time. It will consume your mind and emotions. You would be thinking about your work long after you have finished a class. If you want a job where you can go home and forget about it, then don’t teach!
- There is a healthy dose of idealism in all good teachers. Naive? No, just idealistic. Good teachers envision things the way they want them to be. If you don’t have even a little bit of that, then don’t teach!
However, if you are truly looking for a rewarding career with a purpose…
try teaching music!