Friday, October 16, 2015


How many more times can I write about the wonderful day I’ve had teaching kids? At a time when I should be burnt out or bored out, I’m loving my classes and the kids and the privilege of teaching them more than ever. I’m trying not to gloat here and it’s not always in good taste to go on about how fabulous your life is, work-wise or otherwise. So more interesting me is to try to tease out what exactly makes it so pleasurable and see if those principles can apply to anyone’s situation.
The word that struck me today is “momentum.” I’m riding on energy released long ago that keeps flowing to the here and now, with a current more strong and true than ever. And yes, it’s a source of pride and pleasure that it was me that got things moving all those years back and my colleagues that added yet more momentum to the flow of joyful music and dance. “You reap what you sow” is often invoked when something bad happens, but works equally for the good things.
Momentum means that the kids are swimming downstream in a musical culture that they inherit simply by showing up, the energy and efforts of all the kids before them who experienced the same ceremonies and rituals and similar musical pieces and songs and dances and games. It makes the enterprise easier for them and it makes it easier for us as teachers. Nothing is more difficult and frustrating than the uphill battle, the kids new to a program or a program new to a school or inheriting a program that went sour, all the time needed to convince the kids, the admin, the parents, the fellow teachers and yourself that your work is worthy. The resistance of a three or seven or fourteen year old to an activity is power that can plow down the best of us. And when it’s multiplied by most of the kids in the class, well, good luck with that. One hesitant kid amidst 14 other joyful participants is something a teacher can handle.
So what’s the takeaway? The first is obvious—do what you love and hope that you can get paid for it. And if you make the long term commitment, you start to build a momentum that makes each day just a bit more joyful and a bit more profound than the one before and after paying your enormous dues, you get to ride for free. Or at least get the senior discount. Behind every amazing jazz pianist who gets paid for a joyful romp through the 88’s, wins the admiration of all, feels the uplift of remarkable music well-played, lies a kid who spent long hours practicing while his or her friends were partying.
40 plus years of momentum and no reason in sight to stop. Wheeee!

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