What lessons did your favorite teacher teach you?

An Open Letter To My Music Teacher

You are so much more than a director!

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I still remember the day that we first met. I knew next to nothing about my instrument, let alone music. The only thing that ran through my mind while I sat in the last chair in a room full of experienced musicians was, "I can't do this." I went home crying that day because I really wanted to learn about music but felt like it was going to be impossible. My mom even came with me the next day to tell you that I couldn't do it- it just seemed impossible to both of us. But then, you looked me in the eye and asked me to do one thing, "Please trust me. You can do this."


I spent two years under your direction. Every morning I came to school and the first thing I got to do was be in your class. I spent some of the best times of my life in that class. You taught me some of the greatest lessons I have come across, and the application of those lessons is something I do every day. Here are some of my favorite things you have taught me.

1. If you work hard, you will see progress.

I never thought I would be able to play anything off of my D and A strings on that first day, let alone be able to sight read an entire piece and actually sound half decent. But, you worked with me, had a lot of patience with me, and encouraged me to keep going. After two years, I was able to sight read; the goal that I set for myself at the beginning of this whole experience

2. The hard work you put into your craft carries over to other parts in your life.

Because of the structure I had in practicing my music, I found myself gaining structure in other parts for my life. My grades were the best when they were in your class, my relationships were strong, and I began to come into my own under your supervision.

3. You can find spiritual growth anywhere.

You took the time to foster my spiritual growth- the best thing a teacher has ever done for me. You were not shy about who you were, or to whom you belonged. You were unapologetic about your love for Jesus in a place that doesn't always accept him. This witness served as an inspiration to me then and still does to this day.

4. You do not have to fit the stereotype to be a success.

You taught me that people will look past the person who is performing. You took the time to introduce us to awesome musicians who did not fit the mold, but captivated their audience because of their proficiency in their craft.

5. You taught me to trust and believe in myself.

I never had someone call out my self-doubts and cast them aside for me as you did. Whenever I said "I can't", you would show me how I could. There was never a time you were wrong either

6. Balling on a budget is a real thing.

The two trips that I took with our orchestra under your direction were extremely memorable. Not only did we do well as an orchestra, but we all had the times of our lives. The first trip I went on, I didn't have to worry about money. However, the next year, my parents were dealing with a job loss, and it was the first time I ever experienced not having the funds to participate in a school program. You showed me how to budget, save, fundraise, and scrimp to put myself on that bus up to New York. I can't express to you how important that experience was for me and how much it still impacts me to this day.

7. Always take care of yourself.

You made an effort to show us how you were caring for yourself. How you were eating well, going to the gym, going to church, getting involved in your community, taking time with your husband and kids, AND pursuing your Masters degree. I have yet to see someone work to better themselves like you do.

8. Follow your dreams.

You had me make a vision board for our classroom after seeing that Gaby Douglas had made one on her journey to Olympic gold. You also encouraged me to make one and frequently asked me what my goals were. Whenever I would start to explain that my dreams were too big, you would cast that doubt out of my head.

9. Learning about different cultures is the best way to be respectful of them.

For our final in your class, you had us do research on the country of our origin to prove how diverse our classroom was. We discussed the different musical traditions from each region, and how they all blended together into what we play today. You also had us cook a meal from our country and share it with the class!

10. Don’t be afraid to take action.

You jokingly told us multiple times "Better to beg for forgiveness than to ask for permission", whenever someone felt like they needed your approval to get something done in the classroom. That joke was probably the most transformative thing I have ever seen though. I saw students go from timid children to musicians on a mission whenever we would say it. It helped us get a lot done in your class period!


Thank you for working as hard as you do. You have made a tremendous difference on my life and so many others. Thank you for being your true authentic self!

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I Am A College Student, And I Think Free Tuition Is Unfair To Everyone Who's Already Paid For It

Stop expecting others to pay for you.

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I attend Fordham University, a private university in the Bronx.

I commute to school because I can't afford to take out more loans than I already do.

Granted, I've received scholarships because of my grades, but they don't cover my whole tuition. I am nineteen years old and I have already amassed the debt of a 40-year-old. I work part-time and the money I make covers the bills I have to pay. I come from a middle-class family, but my dad can't afford to pay off my college loans.

I'm not complaining because I want my dad to pay my loans off for me; rather I am complaining because while my dad can't pay my loans off (which, believe me, he wants too), he's about to start paying off someone else's.

During the election, Bernie frequently advocated for free college.

Now, if he knew enough about economics he would know it simply isn't feasible. Luckily for him, he is seeing his plan enacted by Cuomo in NY. Cuomo has just announced that in NY, state public college will be free.

Before we go any further, it's important to understand what 'free' means.

Nothing is free; every single government program is paid for by the taxpayers. If you don't make enough to have to pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. If you live off welfare and don't pay taxes, then something like this doesn't bother you. When someone offers someone something free, it's easy to take it, like it, and advocate for it, simply because you are not the one paying for it.

Cuomo's free college plan will cost $163,000,000 in the first year (Did that take your breath away too?). Now, in order to pay for this, NY state will increase their spending on higher education to cover these costs. Putting two and two together, if the state decides to raise their budget, they need money. If they need money they look to the taxpayers. The taxpayers are now forced to foot the bill for this program.

I think education is extremely important and useful.

However, my feelings on the importance of education does not mean that I think it should be free. Is college expensive? Yes -- but more so for private universities. Public universities like SUNY Cortland cost around $6,470 per year for in-state residents. That is still significantly less than one of my loans for one semester.

I've been told that maybe I shouldn't have picked a private university, but like I said, I believe education is important. I want to take advantage of the education this country offers, and so I am going to choose the best university I could, which is how I ended up at Fordham. I am not knocking public universities, they are fine institutions, they are just not for me.

My problems with this new legislation lie in the following: Nowhere are there any provisions that force the student receiving aid to have a part-time job.

I work part-time, my sister works part-time, and plenty of my friends work part-time. Working and going to school is stressful, but I do it because I need money. I need money to pay my loans off and buy my textbooks, among other things. The reason I need money is because my parents can't afford to pay off my loans and textbooks as well as both of my sisters'. There is absolutely no reason why every student who will be receiving aid is not forced to have a part-time job, whether it be working in the school library or waitressing.

We are setting up these young adults up for failure, allowing them to think someone else will always be there to foot their bills. It's ridiculous. What bothers me the most, though, is that my dad has to pay for this. Not only my dad, but plenty of senior citizens who don't even have kids, among everyone else.

The cost of living is only going up, yet paychecks rarely do the same. Further taxation is not a solution. The point of free college is to help young adults join the workforce and better our economy; however, people my parents' age are also needed to help better our economy. How are they supposed to do so when they can't spend their money because they are too busy paying taxes?

Free college is not free, the same way free healthcare isn't free.

There is only so much more the taxpayers can take. So to all the students about to get free college: get a part-time job, take personal responsibility, and take out a loan — just like the rest of us do. The world isn't going to coddle you much longer, so start acting like an adult.

Cover Image Credit: https://timedotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/04/free-college-new-york-state.jpg?quality=85

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Writing Saved My Sanity

Write it all down when you can't talk to anyone.

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I love writing.

I have since elementary school, and I've dreamed of becoming a published author. I started off writing stupid plays in elementary school, then it grew it almost writing a full-blown novel in middle school. I have no idea where that thing went to. It was all notebook paper and bad writing. In high school, my writing was kinda pushed to the side so I could focus on school. When I entered college, I started writing small poems about my now ex-boyfriend.

I was scared to express myself to him sometimes, the intensity of my feelings for him scared me. So instead of telling him, I wrote them down. When I tried to share them with him, he hated it. He thought writing down feelings was weird and creepy. So I didn't share anything else with him. When we finally broke up for good, everything just poured out of me. What I couldn't express verbally, I wrote or typed out.

I always have ideas flowing through my head. They never cease and I wouldn't want them to. Writing gives me an escape, from stress, work, school, or fights. It gives me a place to vent and to be open with everything. This is a reason I love writing for Odyssey, not only has this place brought me amazing friends but revived my love for writing. I'm never without my notebook anymore, I'd get distracted in class by an idea and have to write I think then and there.

I love sharing my more personal writing with close friends, especially my poems as of late. I found that I have a voice for young women who find themselves in a toxic relationship much like mine was. I want to speak out and show them that you can grow from the bullshit. It may take some time, but you will be better.

Writing saved my sanity. It allows me to express myself without having to use my actual voice. Anyone who knows me, knows I hate public speaking. I tend to psych myself out leading up to it. My current projects include writing for Odyssey every week, I'm in the process of trying to continue my short stories, and I'm excited to announce that I'm currently working on my very first poetry book!

Writing has given me so much, and I'm so looking forward to making a career out of something I love so much.

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