Music in Our Schools
In elementary school it was Mr. Hughes and Miss Halpin. Mr. Hughes rolled the school piano from classroom to classroom with it's chipping yellow paint and broken keys. I smiled from the moment he entered the room until the moment he left again. Miss Halpin taught me how to play the flute in a classroom the size of a closet, her face reflecting patience as I rolled the flute back and forth on my legs, damaging the keypads. High school was first Mrs. Eshelman with her over the top style that made us laugh...and sing. Then it was Mr. Workman, whose enthusiasm had us singing in the aisles - literally! - and the audience on their feet. There was also Mr. J who let me drop the flute for good and move to the back of the band to bang on the percussion with the cute boys. No matter what instrument I tried, he gladly handed it to me along with a beginner course book. Finally there was Mr. S who taught me about espirit de corps and a new way to learn marching band routines. And I loved it.
From my first day in elementary school to the last steps that I took on the football field as my life long friends played "Pomp and Circumstance," music in schools was a gift that changed the entire trajectory of my life.
This month as we celebrate Music in Our Schools Month, it is important to remember the role that it played in our own lives. That fun break in my day in elementary school not only made my day, but it also gave my overworked teacher thirty minutes to sit down and organize her thoughts, allowing her to better teach my class for the rest of the day. Those flute lessons helped me with math and science as I learned to read music and move my fingers in time to the rest of the band, my mind counting patterns while my body made the music appear. The leadership skills that I learned in high school chorus and band drove me to excel in my studies and give me the strength I need now as a professional often called upon to speak to large groups.
Now it is Mrs. Hall who rolls that chipped paint piano into the classrooms. She played the saxophone in the band with me and danced on the stage while I accompanied her on the piano. And today because of Miss Halpin, Mr. Workman, Mr. Hughes, Mr. J, Mr. S, she is making children in our hometown smile and laugh from the moment she enters the room till the moment she leaves.
What music teacher has made a difference in your life?