Posted by: Marie | October 11, 2012

(725) A whole new game

Post #725
[Private journal entry written on Tuesday, November 15, 2011]

Yesterday, I attended a monthly meeting of one of the other local chapters of the music teachers association. There were about 20 members in attendance – a larger group than I’m used to! The members were very warm and friendly, and I felt welcomed.

The educational program was on dyslexia. The guest speaker is a college professor who has severe dyslexia. She has dedicated her life to teaching others how to successfully teach music to students with dyslexia. I found the program to be very valuable and the speaker to be very inspiring. I was taking notes likes crazy!

The Lotus by Martin Chen

At the end of the program, she asked us about our own experiences around teaching students who have learning challenges. I shared some of the methods and tools I’ve developed for use in my teaching. The speaker took note of some of those suggestions and stated that I had some ideas she had not thought of before and she felt they have merit.

After the meeting, a few of the members came up to me and asked for my card – they said they wanted to set up a time to pick my brain for suggestions for challenges they were currently facing with their own students. Wow! These teachers recognize I have something to contribute! What a new experience! They consider me a “legitimate” teacher! Neat!

I had made arrangements to meet with the “new member liaison” of the group following the meeting. I wanted to converse with her over a cup of coffee about the dynamic and personality of the group. She invited a bunch of other members to join us – we ended up with seven of us going to lunch.

It was a fun experience to meet all of them and learn their stories. I learned that many members of the group don’t hold music degrees – they are “home-grown” teachers like me. I asked if that lack of a degree diminishes their value in the group . . . they said, “Not at all! We all can learn something from the others . . . we all bring something unique to the table!”

I asked about the rules of the student activities – rules like numbering measures and using only “standard repertoire” music. They all looked at me with confusion . . .

“Well, there are some rules in the state handbook . . . we follow those rules . . . but, other than that, we don’t have rules . . . well, I mean . . . you have to fill out the appropriate paperwork and turn in that paperwork on time . . . but, other than that, we believe each teacher knows what’s best for his or her students . . . “

“So . . . what about things like the minimum score on the written theory tests . . . I could never get a straight answer from my current group on what score is considered passing . . .”

“We mark the incorrect answers on the tests, but each teacher determines what is a passing score for his or her own students . . . for example, if a student is really struggling and cannot do well on a written test, but the teacher knows that the student understands and can demonstrate his mastery of the material in a face-to-face scenario, then the teacher should have the freedom to determine what is a passing grade. We trust the teachers to know what’s best.”

“Oh . . . neat! So . . . what about using unpublished material?”

“We welcome unpublished material as long as documentation of the composer’s permission is provided . . . that’s a minimum guideline set by the state. Our attitude is that our student activities are the perfect forum to showcase the work of up and coming composers, whether those composers are students or teachers or other local artists.”

I about fell out of my chair . . . what a different attitude! I love it!

Yeah . . . there is a different world out there . . . this is going to be an easy decision . . . there is no cause for me to stay in the abusive, elitist group . . . I’ve officially decided to switch!

I’ll keep my students enrolled in the student activities of the original group (it is too late to adjust our planning timeline for this year), but I’ll attend the new group’s monthly meetings for the rest of this school year. I’ll plan to enroll my students next year in the new group’s student activities.


And so . . . my changing local chapters of the music teachers association created significant changes in my calendar. Edward and I have had another email exchange (subsequent to the verbose exchange of a few days ago) in which we negotiated a change in dates for our sessions scheduled for December through May. I’m glad he could be flexible.

Speaking of Edward . . . we have a therapy session scheduled for tomorrow. I’m excited to talk to him about everything that has occurred since our last session.


And finally . . .

I’ve been watching news coverage of Penn State scandal and the Texas judge who beat his daughter. I’m not shocked that stuff like this is happening . . . I’m very aware that it happens . . . but I am surprised (pleasantly so) by the attention being given to the issue by the news media. It needs to be talked about. It needs to come to light.


  1. Wow. From night to day. What a lovely group. Glad you found them.

    • It was a whole different experience, for sure! Such a joy!

  2. How wonderful to find such a supportive group, one that values your experience and talents. How affirming!

    • It was awesome! I felt my defenses start to lower the more we chatted . . .

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