Soul Food

I just got back from attending this year’s TMEA (Tennessee Music Educators Association) Conference in Nashville.  To be honest, I was dreading going at all because I didn’t feel like I could afford the time (we’re less than a week away from opening night for the WHS performance of Beauty and the Beast). 

But now that I’m back, I know I’ll never miss one so long as I’m teaching.  There is something so refreshing about being with other music teachers, telling them my story and hearing them say, “Yep.  That’s about how it was with me, too.  It’ll only get better, though.”  I hung out with other Knox County choral teachers, met up with friends I haven’t seen since my Music Ed days at UT (that’ be 1996-ish), and attended sessions with titles like “Lemons to Lemonade:  How to Turn Around a Distressed Choral Program” and “Current Research on the Psychology of Large Groups.”

Loved it.  And I’m more hopeful about the Choral Program at WHS now than I’ve ever been before.

Random quotes from the sessions:

We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence, then, is not an event, but a habit.  (Aristotle)

Great choral programs are built over the course of a decade, but they can be destroyed over the course of 20 minutes.

A group will never attain “we-ness” unless the individuals sublimate themselves to the good of the group.  And individuals will never sublimate themselves unless they trust the leader.

But the most powerful moment came for me during the symphonic band concert.  The band was performing a piece called No Shadow of Turning, a theme-and-variations approach to the old hymn “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” and I found myself crying with joy.  It was so beautiful, and my soul was so hungry for beauty.

And I had no idea how much I needed that.

My soul is full now, having feasted on music in the company of friends who know me and understand what it is I’m trying to do as a chorus teacher.  And because my soul is filled with beauty, I am hopeful.

Isn’t this what chorus teachers really want to do?  We fill souls with beauty, first with our students, and then train them to fill other souls in concerts and other performances.  And a community that has beauty-filled souls is fantastically hopeful.

That’s good stuff.

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