We are currently preparing for a concert with a University choir. This concert is a wonderful opportunity for our kids and community to experience music making at a completely different level, to further develop a goal image for their own sound, and to see the discipline a great choir exudes. If this is such a wonderful opportunity, why am I so nervous? It’s in these moments that I feel the most stress, pressure, and desire to do well. As a result, I am more irritable and less empathetic, a worse teacher, to be sure. When I reflect on a challenging day, I often ask, “why am I experiencing this fear and stress?” Going further, “what’s the source of my desire to do well? Is it pride? Is it a desire to have people think I’m a great teacher? Am I working with my students’ best interests at heart?” When I get anxiety about a specific performance, it almost always stems from selfish motivations.

I am reminded of what Allen Hightower said at this summer’s NCDA conference. “Have you, have we, sometimes been guilty of using the choir to fulfill our own needs for success?” This statement hits startlingly close to home.

It’s my goal to use these words, and others from his presentation (which can be found in the NCDA blog post archive) as reminders to spend these last few weeks of preparation with a renewed focus on my students and their experience, on joy and expressivity over perfection, on process over product.

I write this blog as reminder to consistently demand excellence from myself, not only in the music, but also in a personal, relational sense. Additionally, I share this as an encouragement to anyone who may be bogged down with difficult rehearsal prep, feeling stressed because of various obstacles, or struggling finding the joy in the process. Return to what inspired you, to what made you want to be a teacher and share that joy with your students!

Best of luck,

Hunter Boe

 

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