I finally got a chance to get out and be a New Hampshire tourist this week. The New England Band Directors Institute was over, there was no music festival to run production for, and I only had one Seacoast Wind Ensemble rehearsal. I was finally going to find out what that summer everyone who doesn’t teach thinks teachers enjoy! Party time!
My first stop of the day was Mt. Washington. I grew up in New England and had never been to the top of the mountain. I wasn’t paying attention and somehow got a little off of the correct way to get there. How is that for a much gentler way of saying I got lost… I decided that maybe the GPS I had in my car probably was there for a reason and I punched in the correct address and off I went, having to go all the way around the mountain to get to the Auto Road. I got to a turn and was a little concerned about the road (the road pictured in the featured image. And this was one of the better parts of the 7 mile road) but I decided, you only live once, and I do drive a Subaru, like any good northern New Englander does. So what could possibly go wrong.
I questioned my decision at least a dozen times during the first few miles, and at least once had an open discussion with my GPS about its competency. But I kept going. There was no going back! I was in for the adventure! I am a wild man (okay, there really wasn’t any place to turn around so I kind of had no choice but to keep going.) And then I came upon this:
I spent about 30 minutes just sitting on the front of my car enjoying this view. There were no other people and no man-made noises to interrupt the peace and beauty of the view. I would have never experienced this if I hadn’t taken a wrong turn (or two.) I would have never seen this view if I hadn’t just had faith in my Subaru and my off-roading ability. As I sat there I thought about all of the times I had wanted to at least try to turn back, not knowing what the road ahead was going to be like. I am glad I couldn’t have turned around, because I might have and then I would have missed out on something special.
Make wrong turns. Take chances. Have faith in the path in front of you, even if it is a narrow beat up dirt road (disclaimer: if you drive a sedan or maybe a Reliant Robin you might not want to take this advice.) By the way, if you click on one link, click on that one! We are meant to make mistakes and learn from them. We are meant to explore outside the “correct” path. We are supposed to take chances from time to time.
What does this have to do with music and teaching? Let your students explore and allow your students to make wrong turns and mess up from time to time. Some wrong turns will lead to not so good results, and a lesson can be learned from the mistake. And some wrong turns may lead to the right answer, or a better answer. The journey along the way will be worth it, regardless of the path or the result. In a rehearsal, allow your students to take chances and learn from them. When I judge festivals, it is easy to tell those bands that have a director that allows their students to take chances. Those are the more musical performances. I would rather hear an ensemble that plays the music and makes a mistake or two than an ensemble that blandly plays every note “correctly”.
How did my journey end, even after taking some wrong turns? You decide: