Resilience

Recently I’ve been thinking about resilience. Webster’s defines resilience as “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.” By necessity, musicians develop resilience as a skill to help with the rigors of the practice room or to cope with the rejection that sometimes comes with the territory. As music educators, we try to instill in our students and ensembles a sense of resilience; encouraging and fostering tenacity and preaching resilience when the going gets tough.

                With the advent of COVID-19 and the underlying uncertainty about the future of education, it’s been difficult for me sometimes this month to find the resilience necessary to keep moving forward. Seeing the news about budget cuts (especially in the Arts), hearing about universities who are cutting faculty and furloughing employees, and just the sense of uneasiness when planning for a upcoming academic year that is still very much in flux has been coloring my thoughts during this time of reflection.

                Where I have been finding strength this month is the simple act of thinking about gratitude and connecting with colleagues and friends who are facing similar challenges. A few weeks ago I hosted a Zoom meeting for area music educators as a kind of “let’s talk shop” gathering that was informal and not really about pedagogy or online teaching techniques, but about just being together, albeit in a virtual fashion.

                Even in the best of times, music education can sometimes be a very solitary and lonely pursuit. Quite often the music educator is the sole practitioner in the school, or sometimes even the district. In this time of social distancing, I felt that it was important to foster connections with folks and hopefully bolster a sense of resilience among peers. I appreciated the opportunity to converse with colleagues whom I respect and maybe for a small slice of the day, provide a sense of community.

                What I gleaned from this gathering was a reaffirmation that resilience is a virtue for musicians and educators alike. No matter what challenges face music education as a profession, we must keep fighting the good fight. What we do matters and is important work. I am encouraged by seeing colleagues who are adapting to less than ideal circumstances, boldly planning for next year, and who are fighting to keep music as a vital part of education across America.

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