Every year colleagues retire, we say goodbye, ask what they’re going to do next, reminisce a little, maybe think about our own retirement. But how often do we take a moment and recall why we have a connection to music and how we got this connection to begin with? As the days whisk by and the to-do list grows exponentially, we should pause and take time to remember WHY.
I still remember those performance experiences that created a connection for me in my youth. But as a teacher, I soon realized that through the performance experiences of rehearsal, students create a connection expressing themselves through music every day.
We all know why we teach the concrete things, lines and spaces, notes, rhythms, etc., to build a foundation. But we need to also account for the intrinsic WHY that everyone possesses and how it affects our teaching and the students learning. Why we choose music and how we perceive music in our life and career is important to how we are going to express our musical selves.
Personally, I love musical experiences. I think music is important and I want people to have a quality musical experience whether I’m performing or teaching. Creating a musical experience is a big part of my WHY. When I teach, I try to rehearse with that purpose. I want to find the music and have the students experience the music. When I perform, my WHY is to share a musical experience that I envision with my audience. We create the experience for ourselves first, then share it with others. The audience experiences the musician’s WHY at that moment.
So, what are the keys to this experience? The application of fundamentals is the key to any performance: notes, rhythms, tone, tuning, articulations, and dynamics, combined with the proper interpretation, create a musical experience. I want the kids to get addicted to fundamentals as a means of expression. Bringing music to life makes the music fun and exciting. I want them to crave these things. Kids also need words like creepy, sad, longing, patiently, not just faster, slower, shorter. Our groups are the first audience! When they play a piece for the first time, they experience it as an audience. Eventually, they attain enough skill to perform it. Finally, they become musicians for another audience.
Without a musical rehearsal, how can students share music with the audience. They can only share what they have. If they lack the skills to perform musically, their performance will lack any musical content. Without musicality, band is just an activity that can be thrown aside. Musical expression is the value that makes music a necessary subject to be treated with importance. If we just learn notes, then it’s just fine motor calisthenics. How I spend rehearsal becomes the catalyst to spark their WHY for being in band. From the warm-up to the last fermata, remember WHY.
My Complete WHY is to:
Make the time sacrificed in the creation and performance of music meaningful through the experience of music.
That’s why I do this, and this is my goal for each and every rehearsal or performance.
I hope everyone has a great year helping students not only know WHY music is such a great experience but focusing on HOW we share musical experiences in both rehearsal and performance.
Steve Giovanoni is in his 25th year of teaching. He is currently in his 15th year at Randolph Field ISD in Universal City, TX. He is a graduate of UNT and has provided clinics for Midwest, TMEA, TBA, and T.I.: M.E. conventions