It has been pointed out to me by a few readers (which it still shocks me that I have readers) that I have been absent. Every so often you have "one of those school years" where things get more overwhelming than usual. For me I felt like one afternoon I looked up from my desk and it was summer break.
So here I am ending my second week of summer vacation and I find myself at a conducting symposium at Michigan State University. This is my first symposium and it was definitely time to tackle my fear and in the words of one of the symposium clinicians "jump off the deep end". And so I did.
I was nervous. When I get nervous and I mean really nervous my confidence goes out the window. It starts to affect my psyche and then causes me to not be my best self. Day 1 I was a mess. I couldn't keep my head on enough to really even start the piece.
Thank God I got my head back on after that. Part of that is the genuine spirit of the folks running the symposium. For the first time in a long time they truly got the best out of me. It wasn't easy but I was in a supportive place to experiment, start to break bad habits and truly start to take my conducting to the next level.
And there is a clear symbiotic relationship between these changes I am making in my conducting and it's impact on my students music making. I need to let them go and have them be responsible for their music making. That equates to less is more in my conducting. I can't make them play more in time by beating a bigger pattern. If they can't play in time then I need to be their musical coach (like a chamber music coach, which was a big philosophical idea of music making this week) and coach them on how to play more in time. I need to be facilitating their musical selves.
So I am excited to take a step back and re-work my conducting fundamentals this year. In doing do its time to continue focus more on my physical health and deal with my shoulder problems.
I then will be making a shift in the philosophy of music making in my classroom this coming year. Evolving my philosophies. In many ways reflecting on nine years of teaching and what our next journey will be. It's a pretty neat place to be.
How is it thrifty? Because practice is free. Taking the time to focus on my conducting basics requires time, mirror & baton. Sure I came to a fancy symposium but I don't need to go home & get expensive conducting lessons or some fancy method book for my kids.
What my program needs is for me to carve more time for the most important things. I am going to simply see more music, surround myself with more musical experiences and bring that to the classroom.
And this is the most excited I have been to try new things and develop my personal musical self since I left grad school.
Thanks Michigan State for a great time. You got me to jump in the deep end, rethink my priorities in my life & will change my students in ways I had not imagined.
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