Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Why I teach music


I am privileged to work with many children, including some who have been abused and now live in the custody of the state. I am only one music teacher, and, at times, I have questioned my ability to work with these children. I want to create something meaningful and lasting in their lives, but they have been stripped down to bare survival instincts. How do you reach past such a barricade and remind them that it is ok to just be a child, to laugh, to trust, to believe that life is full of wonderful possibilities?

These were some of the questions that haunted me on a return trip home from the foster facility recently. I had met a new child in class. She and her sister were the same age as my own two daughters. She sat sadly in a corner and wouldn’t even look at me. I tried every technique I knew to make a connection with her, but I couldn’t see that I even made a dent. As I was leaving, I overheard one of the other children remark, “She says she misses her mom! Doesn’t she think I miss mine too?” I cried for them all the way home. Did I believe in music anymore? What was I accomplishing there, anyway?


I did a lot of soul searching that week and here’s what I found. I do believe profoundly in the power of music. It is a universal language that invokes emotions and passions understood without words. It unites all of us in joys and sorrows. It brings us comfort when we are all alone and washes away our sadness. It stirs up hopes hidden deep within us, even hopes and dreams that we may have forgotten. Through music, we can express our innermost feelings, and the resultant melody moves those around us to share in those feelings. Sometimes a surprisingly beautiful harmony can be created in the process of dissonance, even the dissonance of an abused child.

I have come to realize that I can't change the world. However, through the power of music, I can change it one child at a time. Oh and by the way, that little girl was the first one through the door the next week, with a great big smile and an even bigger hug for me. I believe in music! Do you?

1 comment:

Kindermusik of the Valley said...

Dear Aimee,
Thank you so much for this honest account of working with such special children. It is so true that often working in outreach is discouraging and heartbreaking - but also so beautiful and in the end is the realization that you really are changing a child's world - because in a life of unpredictability the day they are living right now is their world, the seeds you plant there, if not in front of you, will bloom another day. Peace, Helen