“People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel.” - Maya Angelou
I recently received this note from someone on my workshop mailing list:
"I retired six years ago and can't really believe it's been almost twenty years since my last workshop with you. I keep thinking I'll return just for fun, but I had a heart attack and bi-pass surgery in April, and am still on the mend.
I certainly enjoyed the times spent with you and Orff. I did use a lot of the material the music classes I taught, but more important was how those workshops felt. I will always appreciate those times."
Well, there you have it. 20 years later, the memory of how she felt was still present. I’m lucky that I’m teaching a subject that is in the feeling realm and supposed to bring happiness and joy. Yet how many of our memories of music lessons or classes are painful reminders of how are teacher made us feel like crap? Sadly, too many and my life’s mission is to correct that.
This note and Ms. Angelou’s lovely quote was a good reminder that what we say and what we do is indeed important, but what really counts is how people feel in our presence. My question at the end of each class is not whether the children learned Objective 1, 2, 3 from the National Standards list, but whether they felt more musical than they thought they were. More interesting from my response to their ideas. More lovable from the way I seemed happy in their presence. When alums seem happy to see me, I hope that this is why, a reminder of how they (mostly) felt happy in my classes. And a reminder to me about how happy they made me feel.
Keep this in mind for the election. Watch a clip of Joe Biden talking to the stuttering boy, affirming him and blessing him so beautifully, and contrast it to the other guy, who only makes people feel good about being small, narrow, hateful people. Vote accordingly.