…relationships. That’s it. What we do as teachers, music specifically, is to build relationships.
I was reminded of this when my husband, a retail wine buyer, posted a link to an article making the case that sommeliers in upscale restaurants are losing their influence to retail wine people like my husband. Basically the most knowledgeable retail wine merchants are becoming the neighborhood sommeliers and are better at what they do, because they see the clientele more and are able to forge relationships more effectively and for longer periods. I see that in what my husband does everyday. He’s not working in a prestigious restaurant, brushing elbows with the rich and famous, nor is he getting rich. He loves what he does, is passionate about wine, and has forged some solid relationships with wonderful people, some of whom will read this post simply because of our connection through him.
Now think of all of the things you do in a school year. Lesson plans, grades, assessments, faculty meetings, fix instruments, paperwork, conferences, after school rehearsals, weekend trips with someone else’s kids, and answering all of those phone messages and emails. And that’s only a partial list. It’s not exactly a 40 hour work week, and summers are NOT 3 months off. Why go through all of that? Relationships.
Yes, we want our kids to love the music, practice their instrument, audition for honors bands, and get into college programs. We teach music after all. It’s our passion. Someone showed us the way just like we’re doing for the next generation. Do you remember the name of every teacher you had for every class along the way from Kindergarten to undergrad graduation? I certainly don’t. The ones who make the biggest impression on us aren’t necessarily the ones who put the most information in our hands. They are the ones who shaped who we have become through our relationship with them. I bet you can name those teachers. For me, it was teachers like Mrs. G., Miss B., Professor B., and Professor/Mr. W. They made it clear through their words and actions that the curriculum was only going to be part of our educational experience.
How do we, with all of the hats we wear in a year, make this happen in our classes? Do our students see us the same way as we saw ours? Should they? Relationships are not on the ACT or any other standardized test, after all. The obvious answer is yes! After all is said and done, relationships matter. They shape who we become. We have the chance to shape who THEY become.
So let’s get things started with building relationships in mind. Remember it whenever school seems to be “work” or when people in the administration question why we do the things we do and the ways we do them. When the snow starts to fly as I’m walking out the door to drive to my school that is 30 minutes away on a nice summer day. When being a greeter at Wal-Mart seems like a much less stressful job. What is this all about? Why do I get so bent out of shape for the details? Why do I continue to do this crazy job?
It’s all about relationships.