You might feel as though you are stuck in your current position. Like the system is too massive for you to make any changes. You may feel alone, helpless, as though the status quo has too much momentum for you to affect it. I've felt this way. I've had 14-hour days of teaching band only to drive home completely spent. I’ve felt as though I was trapped in a never-ending cycle of wake, teach, commute, repeat. On those nights, I would fantasize about quitting and running away, perhaps to live on a peaceful beach somewhere. In my fantasy, I would watch my stress float away as I gazed at the waves rolling in and out.
For three years, I taught percussion full-time. I taught lessons, ensembles, and masterclasses all day long. I went to marching band competitions on the weekends, I stayed at the schools late into the night. I was up at 5 am everyday for morning rehearsal, and I became a kid-dodging ninja as I walked through the hectic halls of five different campuses in one day. Part of it I loved. Seeing my students everyday, joking with them as we set up for class. I loved working on music together, I loved getting the chills during a powerful musical moment.
I was always seeing the shortcomings, the problems, the ways teachers weren’t making the most of the opportunities. The curriculum was lacking, and there were so many ways we could have been teaching better, smarter, more powerfully. I quit my post a month ago and I’m just barely starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s still dim, but it is glorious. Every single day, I keep meeting people that share the same feelings. They’re fired up about firing up kids. I talk to music educators all over that want to change the way music education works. I was surprised to talk to people who wish they could change this very thing. But even more surprising is how many of them there are. They are new teachers and old teachers, lesson teachers and fine arts directors. The number of people that want to change our system is massive.
So why aren't we doing it? Why aren't we banding together and making changes? Why aren't we making new ideas come to life? I think it's because we're scared. So before I run out of breath (I typed this whole thing while holding my breath).
Do you want to change music education?
What are you afraid of?