It all starts with a single instrument. Some people start taking piano lessons because their parents forced them to when they were five years old, other people pick up a guitar when they discover Green Day in middle school, and still others fall in love with singing. There are a multitude of ways in which people are introduced to music, but they often remember that introduction forever, as it influences the role music plays in their lives. Because this can be such a pivotal moment for a person, one must go about this introduction very carefully.
I will never forget my own personal introduction to playing music. At my elementary school, when a student entered the fourth grade, he or she was given the privilege to learn an instrument and join the school’s band. This was one of the things that Simonds Elementary School boasted about, and every year the whole school would attend the band’s concert during the school day. I always watched on with pure awe, telling myself, “I want to do that, I want to be a part of that,” and when I entered the fourth grade, that is exactly what I did. In our weekly general music class during the school day, my music teacher Mrs. Bermudez passed all the different band instruments around the class and showed us how to hold them. I thought it was so cool to have a trombone, trumpet, and flute in my hands, but honestly, holding them up seemed like a lot of work to little nine-year-old me — so I chose the clarinet. It seemed like the easiest to hold (you just keep it up in front of you), and I loved the dark and full tone Mrs. Bermudez could make on it. It also reminded me of the recorder, which seemed pretty cool at the time (it would not be much of a selling point for me now.) When I was given the trust to hold onto a clarinet, and I was told that I could learn how to make songs with it, I was totally invested and unbelievably excited to start band class. This long black plastic thing gave me so much hope and enthusiasm, and as melodramatic and cliche as it sounds, it changed my life — it gave me a place where I felt that I belonged, and it motivated me to be the best version of myself that I could be.
Music education can be so rewarding for all involved, but before anything else happens, the interest of the student must be sparked. Mrs. Bermudez demonstrated trust and respect for her students, and I felt the promise that we could work together to be a part of something powerful. This was a privilege reserved specifically for the older students, and after seeing years of annual band concerts, I wanted to be involved. By framing the program this way, so many students, including myself, became hooked on learning, which is often the key in situations like these. In order to keep music education alive and strong, kids need to be excited — by demonstrating that this is indeed something to be excited about, kids will be eager to learn. As a youngster, I was given a chance to be responsible and create something, and that piqued my interest and is indeed one of the many reasons why I am writing this blog.