I attended a Leadership Training yesterday where we were asked to write our personal narrative. Here it is!
I come from a place of privilege. My parents worked hard so that I could have the best of everything, and indeed I did. They wanted to ensure that I had a skill that I could not just employ but enjoy, so they had me begin piano lessons when I was 4, and enjoy it I did. I was the weird kid who danced to Beethoven and said her favorite piece was Mozart’s Symphony No. 40. Music was where I found my place, and when the time came to decide what to pursue in college, I didn’t want to let it go. I decided to major in Piano Performance for my undergraduate work, where I met my first real adversity. I had a professor who seemed to constantly undermine me and discourage me from my goal. It was as though s(he) was trying to take a part of me away. It was then I realized that I had been blessed to have amazing teachers all of my life and I had taken them for granted. This prompted me to choose a different path – one less performance based and one toward teaching.
Several years later, I find myself in the music classroom and in the piano studio, blessed to be doing what I said I would do. I’ve learned since then that music education is really a big freaking deal. When I share my love for music and see my students light up as they experience new things, it brings me a unique joy that I am positive the life I had envisioned as performer never could have. They share their fears with me and I am so thankful that I’m able to tell them from personal experience that they can do anything they want to if they are willing to put in the time. While there is nothing magical about practice helping people grow (not perfection!!), there is magic in feeling the power that comes with doing what you weren’t sure you could do.
And yet – there are people who don’t believe that everyone should have this magical experience. That it is, indeed, one of privilege. I consider myself lucky that I didn’t face any real challenge to it until I reached college. If education is about opportunity, how is it logically consistent to remove any part of the opportunity, especially at a young age? Why shouldn’t joy and growth through education in the arts be available to all? I cannot imagine my life without it. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that my students of varying backgrounds would say the same.