All I can think to write about right now, though, is how incredibly humbled and grateful I am for my life. One year ago, I graduated from Peabody and was promptly unemployed, with a master's degree and a mountain of student debt. I had a lot of hopes and dreams for my career and no idea how they would pan out. I spent most of last summer blogging, building my website, and sending out emails to anyone in the Northern Virginia area who taught music and could offer me advice or referrals.
So I did. I created lesson plans, which I redid on the spot when actually in front of a class of 4-7 year olds. I would spend hours after the class analyzing what I'd done, said, and played. What was effective? What needed to be rewritten?
I discovered something really important, which is that I absolutely love working with kids. Even the four-year-olds. Especially four-year-olds. Their joy, enthusiasm, and wonder at every new thing they learned about the music world was exactly what I needed. You see, no matter how much you love something, when it becomes your job and something you have to do, it can become tedious. Especially after two intense years as a master's student, I was a little jaded. And these kids transformed that. The first night we listened to Death and the Maiden and one of my students said, "I LOVE this music." The first time they hold the violin and play their first song. The first day they get to hold the bow - the expressions of sheer joy on the students' faces and the expressions of horror on their parents' as they realize just how awful a tiny violin and bow can sound. How proud they are at their first recital. How absolutely fearless they are - how eager to try the next new thing. I hope and pray that they never lose that sense of wonder or that courage.
I got lucky when a local Suzuki teacher moved to another state and referred some of her students to me. I was worried about stepping into another teacher's shoes, especially one so loved and adored by her students. I'm so thankful to her for trusting me with her students, which whom I've forged my own relationships. They're staying in my studio after this first semester, too - another thing for which I am grateful. It means a lot to have earned the respect of students and parents who have already had a wonderful teacher.
I was humbled and overwhelmed when most of the kids in my first group class decided that they wanted to join my private studio once the class ended. Not only do they like violin enough to want to keep going - they like me enough to trust me to guide them on that journey.
Today, my twentieth student registered for lessons. Just over a year since I finished my master's degree and less than a year since I started at Potomac. I've taught for many years, but this was the first full-time year and it has been an incredible ride.
So to you, my students, as well as anyone who's read this blog and found anything useful on it for their life or practice, I say thank you. No one goes into the music field for the money, it's true, but because of you, I've been able to pay my loans every month, on time. I'm actually going to have something resembling an adult life in the next few years (although I promise you, if our summer camp runs in July we will absolutely make blanket forts and play make-believe!). Because of you, I feel like I might actually be somewhat successful at this whole being-a-professional-musician thing.
Really, though, it's not about me. All my knowledge, skills, and resources - all that is to help my students find their own musical paths, whether their goal is getting to the next song in their Suzuki book or getting into music school. I pray that I will never stop working or fighting for my students and that I can always be the teacher that they need me to be. Here's to many more years of making great music together.