Teacher Pressures

I received a long letter from a young woman, graduating in mused
who was going to teach many clarinet students in a school system
somewhere. She was apparently frightened concerning the many
extra-musical pressures with which to contend in that particular
kind of Music Education terminology-ridden world. I have lost the
letter but would like to answer her. – SF”

I am sorry that I inadvertently deleted your letter, but I know
you will probably recognize yourself as the writer and I want you
to know that I kept it long because I wanted to think about it.

The “pressures” you mentioned:
* How do I contend with the pressure of having my students do
well at all-state?
* How do I teach that many private students in such short
lesson times?
* How do I cope with parental pressures?

There were a few more which have left my memory, however it was a
letter that concerned me very deeply for you couched it in terms
of Music Education and not in terms of music, the love of it, the
ability of it to absolutely change a young person’s life, the many
masterpieces that must be handed to students as well as the
tradition of the clarinet, sound, etc.

I suppose what I wanted to tell you is that you must retain your
own love of music and that is your principal charge: to pass this
love through your acquired knowledge on to your students. It may
be an oversimplification: there are strong pressures to achieve
certain stated goals by supervisors, who, in turn, have their
goals stated to them.

These goals become part of the fabric of any new teacher’s
raiment, your educative “clothes”. Do NOT let these goals obscure
the reason that you yourself entered this wonderful thing we call

I know, I sound maudlin and cliched and all the rest; however
after virtually a lifetime doing every conceivable kind of music
teaching to every talented or totally tone-deaf student and
working with the most famous as well as the most infamous kinds of
musicians and teachers I know one thing: “It’s the Music, stupid”
to paraphrase our sorry president (that fellow does not know the
long-term consequences of short-term chances taken … well, now
he does). It is simply always the music. Music education,
clarinets, reeds, pressures, parents, reeds, deadlines, All State,
reeds … all came after music itself.

It is a short letter to let you know that, while I have forgotten
most of the actual letter, I retained what I want to say, which I
have said.

You take care, and have a good and successful career.


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