Friday, May 10, 2013

Year 3: Week 31 - Missing The Destination

When I'm preparing my students for a performance, I often tell them that we should feel satisfied with the work we do, even if the performance never happens. I believe that in education, it is in the journey that we find meaning and learn the most, not the destination, so I deemphasize the importance of performances and really focus on making the rehearsals leading up to the performance as meaningful as the performance itself.

In my time as a teacher when I've preached this idea, these quality rehearsals have almost always led to a great performance. The reality for me is that it's not a question of whether I'm going to miss one of my students’ performances because of the coming of my son, it's a question of how many performances I will miss.

The inevitability of missing out on these performances has really put my words to the test. Can I create meaningful experiences during a rehearsal so that even though I miss the performances, I feel satisfied with the work that I've done with my students?

Performances bring a level of excitement that often leads to better focus. Dressing up, playing for peers and family members and simply knowing that it’s a concert changes the feeling of playing with a group. As great as performances are, they are fleeting. They are moments of sharing that are more about the audience than the musician.

I can't really create this in a classroom but I'm okay with that. If I had to choose what to be a part of, the rehearsals leading up to a performance or a performance itself, I'd go with the rehearsals.

During rehearsals you get the time to explore and get to know how your part fits in with other people. This is the time that you can work on a section of music and hear improvement over a small period of time that you can stop and celebrate. The personal satisfaction that follows the hard work of a rehearsal is unlike anything.

If you sacrifice the quality of a rehearsal experience for the quality of a performance you are choosing, product over process and ego over learning. Are you pushing your group to sound good for you or for them? Because if you really want them to feel satisfied about a performance they need to feel that the hard working leading up to the performance is rewarding.

Ideally you have great meaningful rehearsals and fantastic performances, but having both can be difficult. All I know now is that I want to make these next couple rehearsals as productive as meaningful as possible for my students and myself.

This is about truly being in the moment for my kids, praising the effort my students put into their work and not taking the opportunity to connect with each other through music for granted.

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