Music is Joy
Music is Experience
When I hear the phrase, “there is music in every child” I hear a challenge that it is my job to help each child I teach find joy in the experience of music.
Think back through your musical experiences. What is it that draws you to music? What experiences shaped to into becoming the musician you are today?
I can recall a variety of experiences in which I felt the music was transforming me to another time and place. However one of my most profound experiences was playing Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with my college orchestra. I can remember the feeling of being swept up in some of the greatest music with hundreds of other people. Instruments and voices were joined together in producing something that was so beautiful. Even today, years later, I get chills when I think about that moment of being completely swept away by the music.
As teachers, we give our students the tools to be able to experience music in this way. They all are capable of it—we need to help them. This involves building and shaping their technique so that the physical act of playing is easy and automatic. It means teaching them how to shape a phrase so that they can tell the story of the music. And most of all, it means guiding them to understand the transformative powers of music.
Last year, we did a project in which our students wrote about what music means to them. Student after student wrote about how the piano was an outlet for expressing their feelings, how music made them feel better when they were sad, and how music helped them manage stress. They wrote that if they were happy they could play a major sounding piece and if they were sad they would practice their minor pieces. This made me more certain than ever that 1) we were reaching our students where it mattered, and 2) our job as piano teachers is even more important than we may ever realize.
Our mandate from Frances Clark is that there is music in EVERY child and that it is our job to find it. Our job is to teach the child first and music second, but our purpose as teachers is to help every child experience the joy that is in making music.