Editor’s Note- I originally started this entry over a week ago, and then life took over for a bit. I’m happy to be getting back to it at last!
Summer has once again kept me away from my desk, but what brings me back is a fond farewell. While school is getting ready to start up and the smell of fresh rosin hangs in the air, I closed the case for the last time on what has become a very dear friend these past two years. I had the privilege to use a school instrument far nicer than my own as I was in the process of trying to upgrade to a new instrument. We didn’t always get along, and sometimes we were quite the clumsy couple bumbling our way through Bach or Wagner, but at the end of the day we remained friends determined to do whatever we could to make the other look and sound as good as possible. As I blew a bit of stray rosin dust off the fingerboard and removed my chinrest to return the original one to its rightful owner I thought back on all our good times together. We played some truly great music and had some truly wonderful experiences. From classroom modeling, to playing along with my private students, to bringing life to Vaughn Williams’ masterpiece, to playing my first solo recital in four years, playing Ashoken Farewell for my grandfather and honoring my husband’s grandparents at their 60th anniversary party, it’s been a sweet ride and I’m so grateful. Who would have thought that in such a tattered falling apart case one would find such a beautiful piece of artwork and craftsmanship? I am filled to the brim with memories of how this instrument has helped me to learn and grow and deepen my understanding of and appreciation for the immense richness and fullness of which the viola is most capable. One last bit of closure on my graduate school career before the next chapter begins.
As for the new chapter, I will be teaching 4th grade beginning strings and 5th grade 1st year orchestra at two elementary schools this year in addition to my private studio! It’s exciting to be getting into a school again, but sad that the program is only supplemental because strings are more and more being removed from the core curriculum. So, on top of being the best teacher I can be, I hope to go a long way to demonstrating why music education is so vital to overall student development and crucial to creating well-rounded learners. The adventure started with thousands of questions and few answers as far as where I was going to be and who I would be working with. As of today, however, I have toured both schools, handed out forms, and so far managed to get the staff excited for the start of strings classes. The faculty and administration are all very welcoming, encouraging, and supportive already and I am feeling that I was placed very purposefully at these two schools. There have already been some challenges, and I’m sure there will be more to come, by not being in the buildings throughout the day. My evenings have been eaten by answering emails, texts, voicemails, and making calls all trying to get this show on the road. At long last, the students have arrived at school for their first day and it was such a wonderful experience being able to slip in and out of the hustle and bustle of a new school year just getting started as I made my copies and tuned cellos. I passed a 4th grade class in the hall and smiled at the eager faces, wondering which ones I would get to know well this year. I thought of the music teachers and rental shop representatives who will be presenting the different instruments to all these students in the coming week and remembering when I was an eager 4th grader with a twinkle in her eye when I first saw a viola and was told that I could learn to play one. It is such a privilege to now find myself following in the footsteps of my very first strings teachers, and I cannot wait to see all that this year holds.
“Teacher-y Tidbit”- Every music teacher out there can think back to some educator in their past who inspired them. Not just someone who inspired them as a musician but also as a person, and who saw the potential and the passion in them to pass the torch to the next generation. Take a moment to remember those teachers. Some have long since retired, others are no longer with us, and some are still inspiring students every day. If you are able, find an opportunity to personally thank them and tell them what a difference they made in your life, because without their influence you might not be standing on that podium today.