I was going to find several articles about college majors and how they compare to each other and start this article with those links.Then I went searching and was so disgusted by what I found that I decided not to do that after all.
My college major is Music Education (Keyboard Concentration). I’ve played the piano for nearly 18 years now and my identity growing up was almost completely tied into music. I even taught a few students for a year or two in high school. But nobody ever gave me much guidance on what I should do with my life. I wanted to attend college, and there was never a question of what my major would be. After all, what else was I capable of doing other than playing the piano?
Throughout junior college, I explored accompaniment, choral music, drama, theatre, vocal coaching. I had no clue what I wanted to do, except that I did enjoy the fine arts and wanted to stay in school. After I got my Associate’s degree (in Music), I took a year off and even considered not going to university.
Because, you see, I didn’t like teaching. I wasn’t interested in kids. I didn’t attend public school growing up so that was a completely foreign concept to me. And despite being a musician for nearly all of my life, I never felt cut out for performance. That talent just isn’t who I am.
And that’s why, when I auditioned for the School of Music at TTU and they offered me scholarships as a Music Education major, I was excited, I accepted gladly, and moved off to university. At that point I was thinking, “Everyone changes their major. I’m not stuck with this.” My first semester, I continued thinking that. I toyed with other ideas. I even considered changing my major completely out of the music area.
Then the fall semester started. And in the space of less than two weeks, my world has been rocked in such insignificant, yet utterly amazing ways.
Professors learned the names of the students. They sent out personal emails asking about schedules and homework. They engaged with us, created games in class to really solidify the material we were being taught, chatted with us after class, and offered personal wisdom and advice to those of us who seemed unsure or hesitant. It was like a whole different world had been opened up, at least to me.
Freshman/sophomore music education majors are required to take a class called “Intro to Music Teaching.” I was highly hesitant about this class. After all, I’ve never been taught anything at all about teaching, so I had no prior knowledge to start off with.
I have never been more wrong in my life. This teacher, in the space of two weeks, has caused this class to be the one I look forward to the most. She’s made me cry and laugh, be angry, and also love what it really means to be a music educator.
Because the education system of our world is so hierarchical and every single time, the arts fall to the very bottom. Everyone loves music, everyone enjoys the fine arts, but we don’t encourage the children in our lives to be creative or to pursue what they love to do. And even though I knew all that, I never understood that maybe being an educator wasn’t just about teaching, but about changing lives. Changing the world.
Music educators, art teachers, dance instructors. These are the people who are shaping the future, because if we continue to squash the creativity and expression of children and teens, then a time will come when these things are all but disappeared from life. And what kind of life would that be?
I’ve come to think quite differently about my college degree plan in the almost-two weeks since school started up again. I have a small journal that I tucked into my backpack and every now and then when I’m in class and the way the professor explains something in a unique way, I scratch down an idea. When I’m in the practice rooms working away at a difficult passage of music, I sit back and wonder suddenly about the best way to teach that to a student and I scribble another few notes.
And today, as I walked out of a long day of classes, I nearly burst into tears. Not because I was exhausted or frustrated. But because I realized that somewhere in the last few days, I have released myself. I’ve given myself permission to be an educator. I’ve allowed myself to see children as the future of the world and I’ve discovered a desire within myself to be a part of shaping that future.
Because being an instructor of the arts is an opportunity. And one that I will now add to my list of options in life.