Happy Valentine’s Day! What better way to fight the winter blues than sharing your love of music with others? Many of you are in the throws of show choir and concert choir competition season. The rehearsals seem endless, the choreography is tiring, and you are now awake for a full twenty-four hours on Saturdays (I’ve been there–I know it’s exhausting). But even in the middle of the most stressful time of year, you know that every note and every dance step has a purpose because music truly changes people’s lives. And you play a major role in that as a music educator. Thank you.
As you continue pushing through competition season or even through preparations for an upcoming concert, I want to take this “day of love” to share three ways you can continue spreading the love of music education.
DONATE to the Give A Note Foundation.
Established by the National Association for Music Education (NAfME) in 2011, Give A Note is an organization that provides funding for music education to schools whose budgets may not be large enough to support and sustain a performing arts program. Since its founding, Give A Note has donated more than 1.2 million dollars in grants, which has brought music education to more than 45,000 students across the country. They take donations both large and small, and your donation this Valentine’s Day will help more young people have access to music in their schools.
Practice good SPORTSMANSHIP at competitions.
My high school choir directors drilled this into our heads at every rehearsal before a competition. And I’m so glad they did. When you don’t agree with the judges or have a strong aversion to another school’s set, it is easy to fall into the trap of gossiping about other groups or publicly sharing your opinion about their out-of-the-ordinary costumes. Our directors always told us, “Save it for the bus.” I would encourage you (and this may be geared more toward the students) to always congratulate groups on a job well done, no matter what your opinion is about their set or the judge’s placement. Each group at that competition worked extremely hard to be there, and they deserve to be congratulated for their hard work.
Always AFFIRM your students.
You expect professionalism, a strong work ethic, and commitment from your students. These are great standards to set, and I firmly believe that students will perform better (on stage and off the stage) with high standards in place. That being said, at the end of the day, these are high school or middle school kids. They will make mistakes. They will not always say the right thing. And the best way to spread love in the arts is to affirm your students to let them know you care. My choir was my family at school, and our directors were critical in setting that tone for the group. Even when they were frustrated in rehearsals, I always knew they loved each of us and cared about us beyond the rehearsal room because of how they affirmed us as people first and performers second.
On this Valentine’s Day, I want to thank you for all of the love you pour into music education. The world is a better place because of the arts, and you are making a difference every day. Keep spreading the love–we live in a world that needs as much as it can get!