With eleven years of music study under my belt, I have acquired invaluable knowledge and skills from many different instructors on many different instruments. However, some of the most valuable things I have learned from music are not directly associated with the music itself. Three of the biggest things that music has taught me are responsibility, expression and humility.
Responsibility. Music cultivates a great sense of responsibility. If you begin studying piano as a young child as I did, you are taught that you have a responsibility to teacher and parents to practice. Though you are too young to fully understand it at the time, a lot of time and money is graciously given to provide a musical education for a child. When you begin band, choir or orchestra in fifth grade, you are taught that you have a responsibility to your classmates to practice; this sense of responsibility to an ensemble only grows as you age. After all, you are only as strong as your weakest link. In college, you learn that you have a responsibility to yourself to make the most of the opportunities and education provided to you (often for a high price). Part of responsibility is being self-motivated and accountable for your own actions, whether successes or failures.
Expression. Not only do musicians learn the art of musical expression, but also personal expression. Music is an avenue in which you can express what is on your mind and in your heart. You learn to do this through your instrument and/or voice, but also in your life outside of performance. While music is a great way to express yourself and ideas that you have, you also can have a great impact on others. I love being able to express my love to God and his people by leading acappella hymns in my church. The joy I receive through leading a hymn or two does great things for my soul. Of course, while we can experience joy in music making, I will never forget going into a flute lesson fuming mad at one of my professors and at the end of playing through one of my pieces being asked why I was so mad, not because she could see that I was upset but rather she said she could hear the frustration through the emotion I put into the piece. Music is a powerful tool in which we are able to convey a wide range of feelings and emotion.
Humility. More than anything I have learned humility. The lessons in humility I learned through my first two years of college were difficult, but have shaped me to be a better person and musician. I’ve learned that no one is entitled to anything, and that to achieve positions of leadership in an ensemble, whether as a principle player or conductor, you have to be more than just a good musician. As Henri Frederic Amiel said, “true humility is contentment.” My many experiences in different ensembles and positions have ultimately taught me to be content, and that is something truly invaluable.
I am excited to devote my life to being a music teacher, but hope to teach my students more than just music.