Why I Teach
A guiding question for our district is "Why?" Why teach this subject? Why teach this technique? Why dedicate time to this activity? I would like to share with you the answer to the question "Why are you a teacher?"
I teach because someone else did it for me and it changed my life. Whether music, math, science, mental well-being, etc., many others have dedicated their lives to my success. I feel others deserve that and therefore it is now my responsibility. I teach because others deserve what I have received.
You can learn more about my philosophy of music education by reading below.
Why are we in music? Why is this a class? What do we gain out of doing music in a concert or jazz band setting or studying it in the classroom? I have wrestled with this question for years now. When I look back on my experience over the last decades through music I can say I learned how to work towards a goal. I found a passion for leadership and teaching. I found my social group. But what did I learn? Any of these could be found in clubs. I do know that there is something special about our experience through participation in music and the opportunities it gives us that aren’t available elsewhere in the school.
Ultimately, though, being in school we should learn something. But what we will do in here goes beyond just learning how to read and execute Western musical notation and practices. By studying music, as you will in this class, we will dig deep into the culture of band music, pull it apart, dissect it, and ask questions. The likelihood that anyone will get a job in music is rather small. The likelihood that any of us will be able to continue playing after high school is rare as well. But the process of fully embodying the music we study in high school gives us a springboard by which to find a deeper understanding and appreciation of the musics outside of this class.
Yes, I do have favorite classical and jazz music that I love because of my study in music, but my passion for classical and jazz has given me a deeper love of other musics. Vocal octets, string quartets, Jazz trios, full concert bands, big bands - all of what I have studied has given me an appreciation for and love of hip-hop, electronica, indie-rock, pop music, and any number of other styles I never would have considered if it were not for my classical studies. It has also given me the tools to articulate my opinions, to identify why I love one album over another, and to defend and argue preferences in a meaningful manner. I have debated my preference for one Kendrick Lamar album over another. I can tell you why I’m not a fan of the punk movement but why I think Green Day’s American Idiot is an important work reflecting the time it was made in. I can tell you why I love the music of jazz tenor saxophonist Kamasi Washington and in the next statement tell you why I struggle with his work. We will study the past as well as the present and the experiences should deepen your appreciation of all musics and what it takes to make them.
We will learn expression and passion and pursuit of excellence in this class. but if there is one thing I hope you take from this class that you can’t gain from other academic experiences is a deep love of, an appreciation for, and an understanding of how to listen to all music.