I heard a song on the radio this summer that is so infectious, in fact, it’s running thru my head right now! This song has an incredible texture of a gospel choir added in the chorus and a positive message of “I choose joy.” I had to hear it again (and again and again) so I went home immediately to download the song Joy by a group called for King & Country.
This tune set the theme for my summer and I have found the concept of joy weaving it’s way into multiple aspects of my life. Joy operates on a spectrum and for some people, it is an easy, natural aspect of life and for others it is absent.
I intentionally sought out joy when I followed a method of decluttering advocated by the best-selling author Marie Kondo who wrote the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Her philosophy is that everything in your home should “spark joy” and she is on a mission to “inspire the world to choose joy.” I was drawn to her philosophy because it is aligned with my value system which is reflected in the M4YV project whose mission is to “cultivate joy and focus in the learning process.”
Coinciding with my embarkment into this new lifestyle of intentionally sparking joy I began editing the *M4YV Sampler Packet. This is somewhat of a “greatest hits” collection from all of the materials I created over the past 10 years. As I chose my favorite selection from each of the 20 collections, I noticed that I tended to choose the pieces that made me smile and the theme of joy continued to shine a light on my summer.
In tragic contrast to my experiences with joy listed above, my partner and I lost 2 people within 2 weeks to suicide. I know for at least one of the people who passed it was the result of life-long complications from depression. This is a stark reminder that for some people, joy is only a void and never filled with an actual positive feeling.
What does this have to do with music or a violin teaching website?
To be honest, I am not entirely sure yet how to articulate how all of these experiences overlap. I feel compelled to share and open these connections for contemplation in relation to the work we do with teaching and music. I believe that music shines light where there is darkness, helps us process unconscious emotions and gives meaning to our existence. Also, I am resolute that the work you are doing as teachers, musicians and parents of young violinists has far-reaching effects that you may never even fully know the power of.
Music heals those who play and those who listen. One of the people we lost was a musician and in tribute to his life, his band performed. His son was invited to play with the group and the entire community came out to show their love. Friends and family danced and his son had a huge smile on his face when he was on stage. This music created a space to experience joy and honor the individual who passed and remember their life in a positive light.
For more information on mental health please visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
* Download a FREE sample of the score and parts for a “joyful” piece titled Spangled for 4 Violins, Movement III on the FREEBIES page. The complete work is included in the sampler collection along with 19 other pieces from all of the M4YV sheet music collections.
What exactly made my favorite teacher a favorite teacher?
Learning is both an active and passive process. Active learning is the doing part: acquiring knowledge (like where to place a finger on the fingerboard, how long to hold a quarter note, etc.) and applying this to the desired outcome.
Passive learning involves introspection of the active process so we can identify the most successful modalities in helping us reach our goals. With the conscious use of passive learning, we can move forward more powerfully in our work as students and teachers. I use my summers for this conscious introspection of the learning process, and after 20 years of reflecting on my own teaching, I am now in a unique position to reflect as a student, having just finished my first year of nursing school. One instructor I worked with this year stood out and was my favorite. I have been thinking about what made him a favorite teacher for me and concluded the following 3 things listed below.
1. EXPERIENCE IN BOTH THEORY & PRACTICE -
My favorite instructor has been teaching for over 20 years and has decades of professional nursing experience. This combination of a background in theory and practice gives him a deep understanding of the academic subject matter and its relevant application for students. He was able to draw from this vast experience to share poignant stories that ranged from heartbreaking to hilarious. This personal touch made lectures highly enjoyable and helped us as students remember key teaching points.
2. ACTIONS THAT SUPPORT SINCERITY -
This favorite teacher of mine demonstrated his sincerity and commitment to helping students with his actions outside of the classroom. He offered more office hours than any other instructor and always responded to emails within 24 hours. These actions helped efficiently fill in knowledge gaps to help us succeed as students. Additionally, while our college has the policy to offer a generic online survey to students at the end of the year, this particular teacher went above and beyond to create his own survey specific to his lectures so he could receive direct feedback in an attempt to refine and advance his work as a teacher.
3. ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE WHOLE STUDENT -
This special teacher knew how important it was to address the whole student in the learning process. Nursing school is stressful, but thankfully we had teachers like this who always made an effort to acknowledge the challenge we were undertaking, check in to see how we were coping on a personal level and offer advice when necessary. This helped us feel like we had an ally who was invested in our success.
We would love to hear from you - What made your school year special?
Hi! It's me, Heather. I absolutely love working on the Music for Young Violinists project and all the many facets: blogging, website, music, teaching materials, freebies, videos, newsletter and giveaway contests. The best part is connecting with you so feel free to drop me a line. You can learn more about me on the "ABOUT" page. Thanks!