An Open Letter to All Music Teachers

RecorderIt was bound to happen.

Taylor Swift and New Direction (or is it One Direction?!) play more at our house these days than Dan Zanes, Justin Roberts, Laurie Berkner, and Elizabeth Mitchell. And I’m okay with it…most days. At nearly 10, our oldest daughter, Emerson, has reached a new musical milestone—asserting her own personal taste in music. Yep. It was certainly bound to happen. After all, didn’t we, too, eventually make that leap?

Of course, it didn’t seem that long ago that I held her tiny hands in mine as we danced around in Kindermusik class or went bumping up and down in a little red wagon with those pesky wheels that fall off. (Seriously. Can we get that fixed?) When I think back to those early years, I recall the person I dreamed that my daughter would become. I didn’t think about her future career or house or even where she would attend college, but instead I thought about the attributes my husband and I wanted to cultivate in her: confidence, kindness, empathy, cooperation, creativity, imagination, joy, contentment, and most importantly—a love for herself, a love for others, and a love for our world.

Music—more specifically music classes—presented an early gateway to providing OpenLettertoMusicTeachersEmerson with experiences that would equip her to grow into that person. Through those classes, we encountered music teachers devoted to their calling and to the power of music to unlock a child’s potential. Yes. Those are lofty goals reached far off into the future and so seldom seen by those early childhood music teachers in their own students. After all in early childhood, we can only catch glimpses of the long-term impact of our choices and experiences. It’s all about trusting the process.

However, I am here to say that it DOES happen. Our daughter is growing into the person we knew she was created to be. I want to say Thank You not just to our early childhood music teachers—Stephanie Bartis, Melanie Kennedy, Carol Penney, and Jane Hendrix—but to ALL music teachers. Every. Single. One. You ARE making and HAVE MADE a difference in the lives of children—whether you can see it in the moment or not.

Every “Hello” song you sing teaches that each child matters. Every time you lead families to hold hands and participate in a circle dance you teach cooperation. Every time you sing EmersonCollagea song from a country different from your own you teach children more about our world. Every time you encourage children to move their bodies in new ways you give them confidence in their abilities. Every time you bring out that basket of instruments you teach children the importance of sharing with others. Every time you lead children to sing, dance, or play instruments you give them an outlet for creativity, imagination, self-expression, and joy!

Thank you for creating a space for music. Thank you for believing in music and for using your gifts to bring music to children wherever you are. You are making a difference. So, while our children’s taste in music may shift through the years, the love of music and music’s life-long impact remain steadfast.

I know this is true because I see it in my own child. As we near the end of third grade, I recognize how music classes helped guide her into a dancer, a reader, a scientist, a helper, a creator, a musician, and a person who loves herself, loves others, loves our world, and yes, even loves Taylor Swift and One Direction. And I am more than okay with that.

music noteLearn more about the reasons why so many parents give credit to music and music teachers for helping to prepare their child for school and so much more!

Lisa Camino Rowell writes from the Atlanta area. She remains forever grateful to her music teachers: Mr. Dodd and Mr. Hebson.

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