I recently attended the Midwest Band & Orchestra Clinic in Chicago, IL which is always an amazing experience for all band and orchestra directors who get to attend. I will be sharing some of the professional and personal experiences from my awesome trip this year.
A Midwest Experience ~ Confirmation
On our last evening in Chicago, I was engaged in a lively discussion about my possible choice in graduate/masters work. Let me preface this with telling you that I haven't even begun to research schools for this. But, it has become quite the hot topic of conversation with others who are beginning to push me to make the jump into my masters degree. So, for years, I have wanted to do my masters work in Curriculum and Assessment. Yes you read that correctly. Not music. General education Curriculum and Assessment. I know, I know...apparently, this is a travesty according to some of my fellow music educators, especially the ones who work at the collegiate level.
So, back to this conversation. The gentleman I was speaking to is a collegiate band director and, of course, he went there. I had already learned that he quite the "sparrer" when it comes to conversation about any topic; he likes to play Devil's Advocate and does it to truly make you think about what you're saying and not necessarily to offend you. So, when he asked me about my master's degree and I responded, he took it and ran and ran. And he made quite a few valid points, although, he did manage to twist my words a bit so that he could play the Devil's Advocate. And, I admit, that at some point in the conversation, I just kind of shut down. I sometimes have a hard time expressing myself vocally in those kinds of situations and I find it in my best interest to listen and nod so as not to become a twisted mess of words. And, if I'm being completely honest, he did make me think...but he also made me realize that I am more confident in my choice than I thought I was. He actually led me to the confirmation I have been looking for.
Apparently, my lack of desire to study music education could be seen as offensive to other music educators. And my lack of desire to learn more music theory and conducting is detrimental for my students' education and for me as a music educator. And don't I realize that if I do a masters in music education, I would probably only have to take ONE theory class, etc, etc. Then I made the mistake of saying that I wanted something to "fall back on" other than music education. Apparently, this would be offensive to many music educators since music is what they fell back on. The argument continued.
Here's my take on it.
I love music. I love education. They are my life and my passions. Anyone who knows me knows this. On the other side of the coin, I truly enjoy learning about Curriculum and Assessment...but NOT just in the realm of music education. You see, I was first inspired to look at this path by a Curriculum Specialist who had a background in Visual Arts. I watched her make the Fine Arts relevant to the core educators in my small, rural school. She was able to encourage and support them in incorporating the arts into their classrooms. And she was able to encourage and inspire me to challenge myself as a Fine Arts teacher. She was able to fight for the arts in a different way, from a different position.
This is what I would enjoy doing if I wasn't a band director. So many times, we music educators get caught in our big bubble of music education and we can't understand why those people outside of our bubble (administrators, core teachers, guidance counselors, etc) don't "get" us. We can't see past our bubble and they can't see inside our bubble, nor can they understand why we're in our bubble and what's so special inside there. And, so we are left fighting the same fight every school year. We are constantly fighting for others to recognize the importance of our Fine Arts in the schools.
When you have someone who is educated on Curriculum and Assessment AND has a Fine Arts background, I think it would start to open more doors for others in the Fine Arts. I want to be able to make Fine Arts relevant to other educators and administrators. Sometimes, to gain the respect of those that are not in our specific field, we have to cross over into their fields. Not many are willing to do this. Who better to break down the importance of the Fine Arts to a core educator that someone who has studied and respects BOTH the Fine Arts and the Core Curriculum.
Will my students suffer from my lack of a Masters Degree in Music Education or Music Theory or Conducting? I don't think so. I am a damn good teacher, but I am well aware that I have much to learn and I am constantly finding learning opportunities so that I can become a better music educator. I don't have to have a Masters Degree in some kind of music in order to continue being a great music educator.
And, in the end, who cares if someone is offended by my reasons for furthering my education in the direction that makes me happy? Who cares if I am not taking what is considered the "normal path" beyond my bachelors degree? Why should anyone care if I want something a little different to fall back on? I am a music educator. Not only is it my job to educate children in the field of music, but I also feel responsible for educating my "education peers" about the importance of music education and the other fine arts. I am going to pursue what makes ME happy and content.