A Glimpse of Life as a Full-Time Music Educator

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About nine months have passed since I accepted a full-time post as a music teacher. I currently teach mostly group piano/keyboard classes ranging from the 2nd to the 12th grade in varying skill levels ranging from beginners to advanced, some of them are at a virtuoso level. As the school where I’m currently assigned gives a rather considerable amount of workload, I barely have enough time for what is my primary musical medium and discipline: composition. Other than rare occasions where I can record little musical ideas here and there or film a piano improv every now and then, I have lost time for it to the point that I have no idea where to find time to finish the musical that I have been working on for the past two years. I do think, however, that having done this so far has been a blessing for me. I am very grateful to the Lord for having led me to the place where I am at for many reasons.

It is no accident that I am at this place. It is all part of God’s grand scheme of things, an opportunity for me to become a tool for young people to gain skill and knowledge in music. This in itself, I believe, will pave the way for the next generation to serve Him through music and lead others to Him through praise and worship. I pray that those who have received my instruction would eventually convince others of their need for a savior, given man’s wretched and sinful nature, and that it is only through the Lord Jesus Christ’s completed work at the cross that they will come into fellowship with God.

The process of teaching is intellectually and emotionally taxing. Each day at school, I have to pull out every intellectual and emotional resource available. Every real teacher gives out eveything in an effort to properly equip his or her students as much as he or she would do for her own children. No wonder teachers act kind of surrogate parents for their students in the classroom or in the teaching studio, the sort of effort that cannot be matched by any amount of financial remuneration. It all boils down to the love of serving and imprting knowledge that keeps us teachers going.

Having been holed up in my home studio prior to teaching full time, it has been a refreshing experience. Meeting and dealing with all sorts of personalities is a given. It can be so frustrating at times to the extent that sometimes I just want to run away and hole myself up again in my studio, writing and recording music by myself. However, doing so will only make me to revert to what I once was: a human analog of the Dead Sea. The bigger picture of things as an educator shows much more promise. Effecting changes in the lives of students through music is worth all the effort.

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Working with the particular department I am in is not without its perks. I can say that a teacher is the ultimate perpetual student. We have to learn more to be able to teach more. Each challenge we face allows us to learn new things. In a span of months, I have acquired skills that I only dreamt of having once. You can’t help but absorb some degree of knowledge, skill, and insights from colleagues who plan, work, and perform with you. As far as performing is concerned, the team I work with is a blessing from God: they are among the best musicians I have performed on stage with, bringing to life some of my arrangements of wonderful Christian songs in four school concerts. In the process, I even picked up learning how to play some woodwinds and brass instruments as well.

This point in time, I would say, is the eye of a storm that I would call student recitals. It’s a bit relaxed now compared to the preparations we had done for our students. In about two days, all of that is about to change as we start setting up the stage for the recital on the weekend, with the hope tht our students do well and give glory to God through music. Perhaps I would write more about my experiences as an educator in the days to come if time permits, but this is all what I can say for now.

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Life as a “Single” Guy – Stories Through Musical Improvisation: VII. “Shattered”

Being heartbroken is sad and difficult to deal with. I gave it everything I had. No matter how hard I tried, it just wasn’t meant to be I suppose:

Now that I’ve expressed it on the piano, time for me to move on. On to the next story at a later date, folks!

Life as a “Single” Guy – Stories Through Musical Improvisation: VI. “Mind Over Heart, Heart Over Mind”

After two weeks of what was an emotional roller coaster, one would be apt to resolve the conflict between the rational self and the emotional self. By the time things were about to come to an end, I was doing everything I can to prove myself, pushing out every ounce of strength, resources, and the mental resolve that I will be different from all those other people from her past. Unfortunately, none of that would help settle her own internal conflict. I ask why can’t we be together. Seems like there is something wrong with me or something wrong with my present situation that will never make it happen. I had difficulty processing the thought that no matter how much mutual admiration, respect, attraction (if you will) that we had for each other, it just wasn’t the right time. Perhaps her own situation would also prevent her from completely loving me or meeting my needs while I might try to do as much as I can for her (that is if we had the chance to be together).

The themes using the symmetrical octatonic and whole-tone scales represent the mind while those based on major diatonic scales represent the heart:

Life as a “Single” Guy – Stories Through Musical Improvisation: IV. “Waking Up From a Dream of Grit and Gravel”

There is a time when all of those feelings and emotions coupled with complicated situations and the lack of sleep will leave you feeling frustrated:

Life as a “Single” Guy – Stories Through Musical Improvisation: III. “Quid Inenarrabile Musica Voluntaris”

Part of living life as a single guy would be numerous attempts to meet women in many ways, shapes, and forms. In such a pursuit, there is a time when all of the sudden, you find this person. It’s as if the stars aligned themselves i.e. the person you have found thinks in the same manner as you, completes and compliments your thoughts, having similar struggles as yourself. I felt happy having found someone like that within the last few weeks. We knew each other back in the ’90s, and even back then we had this connection. I met her again recently, went out with her a single night that I probably will not forget. Two days later, we realized that this mutual attraction was real, was so intoxicating that there wasn’t a single day where we weren’t talking to each other. It was on the verge of a whirlwind romance yet for some reason, it was a romance that would never see the light of day. Such emotions are rather difficult to describe in words. When words fail to express, the music will:

Life as a “Single” Guy – Stories Through Musical Improvisation: II. “Is That You, Eve?”

It is natural for man to look for that other half, “katuwang” in the Tagalog language. Living as a single guy can be rather difficult emotionally. Erik Erikson identified eight stages of human development, and apparently I still fall under stage 6, intimacy vs. isolation. I struggle with the fact that I have lost 14 years of my life in a relationship that didn’t work out in the end, and I felt the need to search for that someone, my “Eve” so to speak. Here is a reflection of that state as told via improvisation on the piano:

Life as a “Single” Guy – Stories Through Musical Improvisation: I. In My Solitude

Ever since I got separated from my ex-wife and started living the life of a single guy/parent, I have gone deeper and deeper into my musical activities. An almost everyday routine I have established is to record various musical ideas and improvise on them, mostly using the piano. While I have been doing this for the past few weeks, something about them was revealed to me. I then realized that as it turns out, they are actually reflections of how I felt at the moment or whatever it is that I experienced within that period of time. As I have previously written before, my current life in solitude can be lonely yet it is an open road where many opportunities have sprung up. Here is one of my musical stories from my current status, as told on the piano, called “In My Solitude”: