Today feels like a whirlwind. I can’t describe to you what I’m feeling right now. I’m trying to be careful about what I say and be considerate of what I write. Here’s just legitimately, the list of what has happened to me today and last night. Last night I made one of my students cry, this morning I woke up and bombed a lesson I was supposed to teach in Elementary Music Methods, and I got a notice about my student account telling me I have a hold on my account which led to issues with my mom.
My student last night who is from the Dominican Republic started crying after I attempted to play a game with her where she has to listen to what I’m singing and play the interval on the violin. First off, she’s 28. I just wanted to point that out, because I play this game with my 2nd and 3rd grade students, it’s not like it’s really challenging to the point where I’m basically murdering her with the challenges I’m asking her to do. She’s made progress since we started, and when she works at what she’s doing and doesn’t complain about how hard it is, she can do it. English is her second language, and so it’s hard for me to communicate with her sometimes. But I am patient and I’ve been patient with her in making sure that she understands what I’m saying. Basically she started crying because she told me I make her feel stupid the way I talk to her.
At first I just felt terrible that I made her cry. But her crying made me look back on my own personal experiences and realize that my cello teachers made me cry before many times. I realized that sometimes music lessons sucked, and I would come home crying asking myself why I want to play the cello, and wanting to never touch the cello again. But it was through those times that I became a better musician. It was through those times of pure and utter embarrassment and questioning that I realized I did want to play the cello. It made me fall more deeply in love with playing the cello.
But later, it was not the fact that I made her cry that bothered me, although it truly was shocking. It’s the fact that she told me I make her feel stupid. This concerns me because if I come off like I’m stuck up or I know everything, as a teacher, it would be really easy to not respect me or appreciate me. I hated my teachers that made me feel stupid. I want to be a good teacher, and if my student feels stupid the way I talk to her, I need to change that. It made me think about the way I carry myself, or the way I say things, and it really scared me. It scared me because I was concerned that maybe I’m communicating to them in an authoritarian way (the way that I hate, and never want to be like) where I’m feeding them information. Maybe I am teaching like I’m the know it all, because technically I have been studying music for the past 5 years. I just continued to struggle with my behavior as a teacher and what I was doing wrong.
Then I woke up and did my “orffestration” lesson in Elementary Music Methods class. I totally choked. I couldn’t even sing the melody that I had practiced, and I didn’t know what I was doing anymore. My mind went totally blank. The teacher had to help me and give me ideas, and it was quite honestly awful. This led me to realize that I’ve always done this. Performing in any and every way has always been a challenge for me.
I’ve never been good performing on my cello, in aural skills class, in conducting class, on written tests, and presenting anything. I’ve always completely blanked, no matter how much preparation I put into it. My professor emailed me his thoughts about my lesson, and he told me that maybe Elementary music isn’t for me. This was really hard to read because I’ve enjoyed my elementary music methods class, and I’ve learned so much from him and his teaching. I’ve been able to apply a lot of what he’s taught to my own private studio and it’s been very helpful. I am even leaning towards being an elementary music teacher as opposed to being a high school or middle school music teacher, so to read that maybe this isn’t for me, was really hard.
It made me question everything that I’m doing in my life right now. It’s been awhile since the last time that I questioned being at a conservatory and going into music (the last time I questioned it was probably my sophomore year), but today I questioned why I’m at this conservatory and why I’m in music. I have not felt so discouraged and so frustrated in a long time.
This discouragement really made me question why I was in music, but more sharply it made me question myself as a potential teacher. This I had never questioned before. I’ve always felt adequate to teach, where I usually questioned my musical ability. Questioning the entire degree I am working towards was very hard for me, and it challenged me to think about what I love about teaching. It challenged me to look at my other students and realize that I connect with them, I love them, and I am able to teach them in a way that not everyone can.
After this happened, I checked my email and noticed that I was notified I have a hold on my account due to my unpaid bill. I texted my mom and asked her for help to pay for my tuition. I told her that I know she cut me off financially, but I need help. She told me that she did not cut me off financially, and that the only thing I have to repay is for my “boneheaded action” this summer, which I’m assuming is her saying I had too much of a lazy summer for her to count it as anything worthwhile.
This frustrated me in more ways than one. She did cut me off financially, and it was frustrating that she didn’t acknowledge that. My sophomore year, she told me that she could no longer support me financially in my decision to stay at Wheaton because I’m paying thousands of dollars to become a music teacher and that it’s a dumb decision to continue the path that I was going. If she had not meant that then, it was frustrating that she made me have that idea and that I’ve been busting my butt for the past 4 years trying to pay for Wheaton.
She also told me I could always ask her for anything I needed. That’s wrong. She never told me that. And on top of that, I was under the impression (apparently) that my family’s financial situation was dismal. But apparently she was able to pay for my bill this semester? This is just confusing to me. I really have no explanation.
So that was my day: pure, utter confusion from three different fronts. Why did this day happen? I have no idea. On a positive note, I did work out for the first time today in several months. So maybe the confusion is good for my health. And, I babysat for this family I haven’t babysat for since the summer probably. I missed their kids. And, one of the boys told me I looked skinny. As I thought about that, I realized, I have literally never been described as skinny. So I think he must’ve been confused.
Also, through my complete and utter confusion about everything that happened today, I have to still know that God is not confused. He is not wondering why all of these things happened today, but he knows why all of these things happened today. He planned them before I was born and he has a purpose for them. I wish he would’ve maybe planned it so each of those things would’ve happened in a three day span, but I’m not complaining. This truth is hard to remember in the midst of confusion, but I have to keep reminding myself of it. God is and I am not.