Music teachers are often asked, "how do you have the energy to keep up with all of those students?" Or, "why do you do what you do?" Of course it is because I genuinely love what I do, but there is a greater benefit to teaching music...the students are the ones who give me the energy!
In the midst of a series of outreach projects, I realized that the change in them becomes the change in me. Together we become more thoughtful, more expressive, more human, and collectively we eventually become more humane. Every adult should know what it is like to make music with young people. This is when true art happens through the creation of inspiration, beauty, and understanding. The change in me then becomes an even more profound change in them. In their youth, they are untouched by "tradition", textbook definitions, and years of demanded perfection. They guide themselves by whatever works to get from the beginning of the music to the end. As the mentor, I initially surprise myself as my focus quickly shifts from curved fingers and other proper techniques to style, beauty, and tone...their musical voice. The change is happening. The more we focus on artistry and the voice of the instrument, the more we connect, trust, and learn. Doing things "correctly" now has a purpose. With trust as our foundation, both sides become truly enriched by the mutual presence in each other's change.
I do what I do because it feels right. Creating art and showing young people their potential to achieve excellence can and will change all of us. To do better, we must expect more of each other and celebrate the rewards of hard work. In this case, the reward is discovering the beauty in their own music and the confidence to share it with others with the hope of adding yet another link in the change.