I’m in my eighth year of teaching secondary vocal music. Recently in a meeting with an administrator, I was expressing some frustration with my classes, and I was worried about my effectiveness with that particular group of students. He said something along the lines of, “I know it’s hard when you can’t make them love music like you do.” At the time, I smiled and nodded and we moved on to the next item on the agenda. But later, I started thinking about what he said, and I made a surprising discovery.
I don’t love music.
That’s not a typo. I mean it.
I don’t love music.
I like music.
I like listening to music. I like making music. I like teaching music. I like that I’m good at music. I like the doors it opened for me in the way of college scholarships. I like the confidence it gave me. I like the skills it instilled in me that carried over into other disciplines—like collaboration, work ethic, creativity, and critical thinking.
I like music. But I don’t love it.
I love people.
Had it been the opposite—had I loved music and merely liked people—I might have pursued performance. I was taught the skill of performing. I’m perfectly comfortable singing in front of groups small and large. What makes me uncomfortable are the accolades that follow. I’m happy to prepare a solo for church, but I find myself slipping out of the service early so as to avoid the compliments from people. True performers are capable of and like to accept praise. The good ones learn how to do so humbly. I just find it very awkward.
I imagine this idea is true of all or at least most passionate educators. Literature teachers—like reading, love people. Math teachers—like problem-solving, love people. Social Studies—like history, love people. Science Teachers—like understanding, love people. Media Specialists—like books, love people. Principals—like leadership, love people. Coaches—like sports, love people.
But at the end of the day, it’s the connection to the people with whom I share the music that is the biggest reward of all.
Like music, love people. That’s why I’m an educator.