Planting Seeds: A Lesson in Music Education
In the fall, my 6 year old was truly fascinated with the changing colors and falling of the leaves. While working in the garden, she loved working alongside me, raking leaves into large neat piles and destroying them with a mighty yelp and jump.
One day she came home from school and had a bag of tiny acorns. She said she planned to plant these acorns in our garden in hopes that they will grow into tall trees in the springtime. Very diligently, she went outside and planted these acorns in our flower bed using a shovel, rake, and a watering can. Full of exuberance she came back inside, wiped her forehead with her dirty hands and declared the task was complete. I asked her, “How would they grow?” and she replied that she would have to give them lots of water, because they would be thirsty everyday.
About a week ago, when we were enjoying the first beautiful spring-like weekend, I noticed my flower bed had little sprouts all over! Our first signs of spring were planted by the hands of my precocious little child.
The smallest seeds make the most beautiful flowers- the tiniest acorn can grow the mightiest oak.
The Orchestra recently debuted a beautiful spring-themed lineup of new virtual ASO concerts available to stream for free. The beautiful concept of the “Spring Serenades'' made me think about how to approach this blog, reflecting on the last year and our seasons of change throughout this pandemic.
As the first blossoms of spring appear there is a new sense of wonder and hope. Marking the one year anniversary of the first lockdowns of the COVID-19 pandemic we remember how the virus overshadowed our usually active schedules. Last spring we had no idea what was ahead for us personally or even professionally. Now, slowly, as the vaccine becomes available we are starting to emerge from a year of deep loss, the sun seems to be shining brighter each day and the future looks promising.
In regards to education, who plants the seeds of learning in us? Parents, grandparents, and teachers are the first answers that come to mind. However, pondering this, I thought about it from another angle, do our children plant seeds of learning in us? What do they teach us?
If you have ever worked with children in any capacity, there comes a point where you realize that you have underestimated them- perhaps their ability to do something, to have complex thoughts and reasoning, and sometimes you are struck by how reasonable and simple their solutions are to problems. One of our ASO Musicians, Sarah Dennis, was visiting with a 5th grade music class in the Birmingham area and she stated very beautifully in her opening remarks that she believed that their generation would be “resilient.” Absolutely. Can we just bottle this “resilience” and serve it up when we need it?!
I underestimated my daughter when she planted these acorns, I didn’t think any further when she watered the dirt where the acorns were planted. Now, because of her diligence, six months later, our yard is filled with the saplings.
Very quietly but expectantly, children hold us accountable for their education. They want to learn and grow. They expect to be led. These same children are holding the ASO Education Department accountable to help lead them to success. It is our goal to be partners in music education with our schools, our teachers, our parents, and most importantly, our students.
Going to a symphony concert plants a seed, but more importantly, seeing and talking to an ASO musician or conductor in your classroom waters that seed. Lesson plans and education videos to supplement music curriculum in the classroom help that seed sprout. Moreover, working with the teachers and students of Alabama, I become more hopeful, more passionate, and excited about learning how we can best serve their needs in the classroom, the concert hall, and our communities.
I am thankful to the beautiful children of our state for holding us accountable, for inspiring us and for teaching us what resilience looks like. It is our goal, as an organization, to continue to not only plant the seeds of learning, but also to continue to help quench the thirst for knowledge-- just like my six year old watered her “thirsty acorns” and brought a tree to life.
Are you a music educator in the state of Alabama that would like to share your experience? Inquire about being featured in our Education Blog by emailing Maria Wilson, ASO Education Initiatives Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Maria Wilson, Education Initiatives Manager, Alabama Symphony Orchestra