I do two things in my working life. I play the cello (which sometimes involves playing concerts, or teaching others, or coaching groups), and I run music programs (I happen to be pretty good at this). I used to run music programs for a number of organisations, but now I just work for one charity that puts music programs into schools that wouldn’t normally get them. Over the years, I’ve been in a number of schools – some country, some city- all over the place, actually.
I’ve just come back from visiting one country school I go to regularly. I love it out there. I always have a really good time out there. The staff are really supportive. They are really keen to learn to teach music better. The kids are really keen to learn. I know anyone reading this would think, ‘Yeah right. There’s always one or two that don’t want to be there and slump at the back’, but actually, it isn’t the case. These kids really do want to learn music stuff, or new songs, or new percussion pieces, or drum patterns….. It’s an excellent situation, I think.
It’s great to be at the helm. It makes me really proud. Tired after a visit – but proud.
On the plane, coming home, I was reflecting on all my teaching. And thinking about how important music is for kids. (I don’t understand why it isn’t seen as important at maths, or literacy – but that’s for another day….) I used to be at another school, but the music program got taken for granted. Things went bad. I left. Was it my fault it got like that? I don’t think so. I think the person at the top decided that they didn’t want something like that at the school. It breaks my heart when I hear stories about what’s going on there, because I still hear a few things from time to time. It was a fabulous music program – and now its not really.
And then I realised that these programs are a little bit like allowing children to grow up as a parent. You do your best – and then you have to walk away. They may keep going as you envisaged (like the ones I’ve set up in Timor), and be really successful. There may be teachers who really take on board what I’m offering, and keep teaching it, and adapt it, and make it better. And then there are others that don’t keep going, musically. And I can’t do anything about that.