by Elizabeth Mason, Elementary Music Teacher
Just before the summer holidays, a young student came to my classroom, ready to leave after a day of learning, and asked, "Ms Mason, can I ask you why you like being a music teacher?". I was a little surprised by his question and thought that I should tailor my response to fit his needs. "Of course", I replied, "but why would you like to know?". He looked straight at me, took a deep breath and said, "because I want to be a music teacher".
He stated this with such feeling that his eyes immediately started to well up. I pondered my next response very carefully. "Well that's wonderful!", I said. "I love teaching music because I love music". He nodded sagely at this sensible connection as I continued, "and teaching children to sing and play instruments makes my heart happy". At this point, we both had tears escaping down our cheeks, surprised as we were by this deep conversation springing from an innocent question.
His next query sent my mind into further acrobatics as the conversation quickly took a more serious tone. "Did you have to go to music university?", he questioned. "Yes I did", I responded, while my entire journey from young music student though to qualified music teacher flashed before my eyes. The extra lessons, the teachers who gave me individual help along the way, the struggles, the luck and the harrowing solo performance exams. A 15-year journey with so many variables, culminating in permission to do what I love: teach music. "You know, being a music teacher is great, but if you do anything with music in your life, that would also be wonderful", I added. He nodded again, appearing wise beyond his years, and it seemed the kind of conversation which needed to end on a hug.
I went home for the weekend and reflected on the interaction. I realised that he wasn't necessarily stating that he specifically needed to become a music teacher. What he was really telling me that afternoon was that he finds joy in music-making and he wants to share that joy with others.
Which really is wonderful.
I know that my young student's dream career may change several times before his journey through school has ended, but I hope that his curiosity and conviction do not waver. It is my responsibility to help him and all my students achieve their dreams in any way I can. A weighty responsibility, which I do not take lightly. It is my fervent hope that all my students grow up wanting to be music teachers, and by that I mean that they grow up finding joy in their life passions and wanting to share that joy with others.