Think of those experiences that have inspired you to want to be better, to be a part of something bigger and greater, to transcend limits and to touch, if only for a moment, something divine. Then start searching for ways to create those experiences for your students and inspire yourself in the process!
When I was touring with my college’s choir through Europe, I noticed that there was something different in the crowds (even if they were small) that gathered to hear us sing. There was a sense of reverence or attention that I didn’t really notice when traveling in the United States. I noticed it in Spain four years ago on the previous choir tour.
I believe that as a culture we have lost something. Now I know this sounds like a nostalgic plea for the good old days that I was never even alive to witness, but I really think we’ve lost our sense of awe and wonder in the face of great art. Not everyone, mind you, but a lot of us. I know that my experience of the transcendent nature of art is often stymied by my cynicism and envy of a performer’s virtuosity.
But every once in a while, we encounter that feeling again. For me, those moments have come when listening to a children’s choir in Naperville, Indiana, a symphonic band from the University of Nebraska – Omaha, or even while performing at a beautiful round wooden church in Riga, Latvia. The arts have the potential to give students experiences that they will not find if we do not offer them.
It is my goal as an educator to first provide them with the learning environment for them to grow and build their skills as musicians and as human beings. Second, provide them with performance experiences as both performers and listeners so that they might share in the human experience of transcendent artistry. These two goals, artistic skill/perspective and artistic transcendence, are the ways in which the arts build self-knowledge, community, and growth that we want each student to find as they embark on their life as learners.
- Strawberries in Wittenberg (jamespatrickjensen.com)