This past weekend, for the first time in about 11 months, I was part of a live performance.
Student teaching and graduation from college had conspired to keep me out of any musical ensembles for the past 11 months, and I was grateful for the opportunity provided by a small community jazz band just a half-hour’s drive from my house.
They aren’t the most talented musicians I’ve ever played with, and the literature isn’t particularly difficult, but that’s not what this is all about. It’s about getting to be a part of that special communal relationship that only a musical ensemble can offer. It’s about getting together for a couple of hours each week with a group of people who love making music as much as I do. Most importantly, it’s about reconnecting with a part of my life that had been missing for over a year.
It’s going to be a long, circuitous route, but I’ll link this back to teaching, I promise.
An old quote says, “Those who can’t do, teach.” Words to live by—if you’d like to be nothing more than a poor-to-mediocre teacher. A more accurate saying would be, “Those who teach must do, lest they forget how.” It’s important to remain involved in your field to keep your knowledge base updated and easily available for recall in the classroom.
Up until the recent musical opportunity presented itself, I hadn’t played my trombone—or any instrument, for that matter—regularly since May. I had made an effort to play every day while student teaching, especially as a model for my students, but as soon as I graduated, a lengthy lay-off had set in.
It’s amazing how much ‘rust’ I had to shake off after just a short time away from total immersion in music. I hadn’t forgotten how to play the trombone, not by a long shot, but I wasn’t as comfortable in an ensemble setting as I had been in college, nor did I have my full facility on the instrument.
Imagine how rough the transition back to functional musician would have been if I’d taken a year off, or two years instead of just six months. That’s an awful long time to be away from that aspect of my field. Even if I were currently working in the music ed field, I think that taking a huge break from performing/composing would hurt my teaching, as it would mean that I was not continuing to refine my understanding of those aspects of music.
Moral of the story—stay involved in your field, lest your teaching suffer.