It’s a good question to ask and be asked:
What Inspires You?
Have you thought about that recently?
Have you considered what really makes your world go round? Or what makes you smile, laugh or jump for joy.
I think about this a lot, and often I feel like I am lacking inspiration. I have some go to movies, songs, books and people that help me to feel inspired. But despite all of that, sometimes inspiration is running dry.
But what I treasure are the real moments of inspiration that you can’t predict, expect or explain. They are the moments that affirm in me that what I do for a living is what I should be doing and what I want to do. I am a bit irritating, but I kinda get a kick out of my job and out of life and I often have moments where I am overwhelmed with excitement.
I share these thoughts because I want to and because I know that it can be hard out there in the world of music teaching. For every moment of inspiration there are often ten moments that aren’t all that inspiring. Last year there were several of those moments and I really had to dig deep for inspiration and a way of picking myself up. But that is normal I think, and what I want to do more this year is hold on to the moments of sheer inspiration and re-live and remember them when I hit the darker spots.
This week I had my first solo performance lesson with my new Year 10 class. I like to do it early on so that I know what the students are capable of. Some of them are known to me and I have heard them play before, some I know and I haven’t heard as a soloist, and some are an unknown quantity. So I always head into this lesson not really sure how I might feel at the end.
But this was the most inspiring moment of my week, and so I am sharing it with you all.
So, the lesson starts and the students are all sat there, instruments in hand, ready to go. And then I sit and watch as student after student stands up and performs. Wow. I love it, and it is not the first time I have done it. Watching them be vulnerable, creative, musical and passionate about their instrument is just the most inspiring thing. And the ability range is fairly wide, although luckily not that wide, but there is a full range of experience.
One lad started learning sax just a year ago and there he was standing up and playing a grade 3 piece, and I just found that so inspiring. I was so proud of him and all of the students for what they did.
Those moments are common and yet always precious to me. Something happens in that room after that lesson and I feel that the group is now solid, bonded and ready to embark on the GCSE.
If you don’t do performance lessons like this, then I would urge you to go for it. Encourage the students to just go for it, to stand and play and not worry about grade, experience or ability. It is the starting point for you and the class and I truly feel like it changes the atmosphere.
But what I love the most is that it just made me feel so happy to be a music teacher. I see the most amazing music and I listen to wonderful recordings and go to incredible concerts. But there is nothing like seeing a student stand up and play an instrument, and frankly, the simpler the piece the better. It is music at its most powerful and communicative. It is a student saying, This is Me. It is a student saying, this is what I can do and I am proud of it.
I end the week inspired by my students and excited about the year ahead. If you have had a hard week then maybe this story will give you a pick up. I am now looking for the inspiration that I so often need by looking at my students.
Proud music teacher. Find what inspires you and treasure it!