No Regrets!

This week I’m taking a class called “Real-Life Math in the K-6 Classroom.”  The woman teaching it said today:  “Being really good at math doesn’t make you a good math teacher.  In fact, being really good at math can hinder you from being a good teacher.”

My first thought was this:  I’m so glad I am not teaching music! 

Your first thought might be, excuse me, who does she think she is?  So let me interject by saying that I make no assumptions that I’m “really good” at playing music.  I do okay, but I don’t claim to be “really good.”  🙂

But you know how much I love playing music, so your second thought might be a perplexed whaaaaaaaat?????

Well, let me tell you this.  Learning to play an instrument is really good for you.  It’s good for brain development, it’s good for fine motor skills, it’s good for social development, it’s good for your grades in your other classes (like math).  It’s good for you, even if you only do it for 5th and 6th grade.  It’s good for you, even if your parents are making you go.  It’s good for you, even if you don’t have any innate musical talent whatsoever and you find it really hard. 

It’s good for you.

But here is what would happen to me if I taught 5th graders how to play instruments.  I would be ticked off at the kids whose parents are making them be there and who don’t care.  I would be disappointed in the kids who quit band when they needed their time for things that are more important to them.  I would be frustrated and impatient with the kids who find learning to play an instrument really difficult.  Doesn’t exactly sound like the wonderful, generous, and inspiring teachers that one might hope for.

The paths I took learning how to play piano and clarinet were very different from each other, but there was one thing in common.  I worked really hard for a lot of years, and I got “good.”  (Ish.  Sort of good.  And not so much with the piano.  I passed piano proficiency in college, so I was “proficient.”  Which means, “You’ll do.”  🙂  But I definitely focused more on clarinet.)  And I really like being good at playing clarinet!  I like playing hard stuff.  I like the feeling of practicing a tiny section over and over for 20 minutes, and then playing it perfectly when it counts, without really thinking about it.  I am both excited and terrified at the thought of a possible upcoming audition I have, to play in an ensemble with band directors and music teachers…especially since it’s been seven years since I auditioned for anything…terrified…but more excited…

I don’t think I would like teaching someone to play from scratch.  Or teaching someone to play that doesn’t really want to learn.  Even though it’s good for them.

I have a lot of patience for a child who doesn’t know how to read.  I have a lot of patience for a child who doesn’t know how to resolve conflict.  I have a lot of patience for tantrums and potty training.  I would have no patience for a child who is learning to play an instrument.  There are people in this world who would joy in the success of a group of 5th graders playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star after eight months of instruction.

I joy in a group of preschoolers counting and writing their names after two years of instruction.  I joy in a group of first graders reading at grade level after ten months of instruction.  And most of all, I joy in playing my clarinet and my piano.  I have no need to get really good, (well okay, it would be really fun, and I miss it sometimes, but it’s not in the cards right now), and I have no desire to teach.  I just want to play.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play my piano for a few minutes before I finish my homework for class.  🙂

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. doris
    Jun 22, 2010 @ 08:52:42

    I am so greatful for the band instructors that we had at Iowa Valley as Jessica was beginning. There were many months of learning the first two notes before anything more was possible. I am not ‘good’ at music but would not have the patience to be positive with 6-8 hours of hearing the same bad note from 10-20 different 5th graders on individual lesson days.

    Reply

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