It’s funny, because I feel that if I just take a step back from everything I do, teaching, performing, composing, and living, it feels like a drone of all the same. Almost like a John Luther Adams piece in the way that it might sound like a steady stream of consciousness that doesn’t change, but if you actually pick yourself up and put yourself somewhere else in the score, it sounds completely different from where you left.
Being a first year general music teacher presents me with such an abstract picture of what I’m doing. It’s a struggle to meet your new students on the same playing field with the same baseline assumptions, and influence their intuition in the musical world. Identifying my students needs and putting all the pieces of the puzzle together to figure out who they are, feels like a guessing game in the first year. 20% of a grade level I work with may have scored proficient on the last standardized test, yet I hear at least 80% of them mimic a pitch pattern and sight-read solfege patterns on the first try. Music may be the only part of the day they feel inherently successful.
So the idea of music benefiting society, saving the world, these notions of what music does, I think of it as my world. I never voluntarily step out of it. Music helps me cope with most, if not all of my hardships. To instill music in the future of these children, no matter how much they use of it, is my responsibility. Not to force my own worldviews on them, but to give them the tools to create their own world if they ever need to.
When I step into the composing realm, it feels like these pieces I write in mid-procrastination are musical gifts I give to myself. Creating new pieces keeps me sane in a way- these pieces save my world. Going home after teaching to finish a section of whatever piece I’m working on, editing the way a part looks- making whatever I’ve made better. It’s not only incredibly rewarding, but it’s something I can look back on where sense-memories return in a way that give me a mental picture of what my life was like when I wrote that piece. It’s how I sort of keep track of myself.
Of course, coming from a solitary place, studying and creating, then on to performing with Voices 21c, is something I can’t ever find myself taking for granted. The programs are so rich in content. We go into a rehearsal where everything rapidly locks together. We become so emotionally connected, not only with each other, but with the material- that type of human involvement in anything can save the world. To be so kinesthetically and emotionally, spiritually, mentally involved in one moment of life, in something so profound, is a level of human engagement people can accidentally miss out on these days. Deeply meaningful experiences, whether from the perspective of the performer or the audience, serve as a reminder of who we all are as human beings in a society. It always ties back to the music.