I remember the moment vividly. I was in grade 9, standing in our living room beside the piano. My mom and I were in heated debate over a timer. I was a bit ticked (at myself) because once again, my younger and more musically inclined sister had taken it upon herself to learn how to play my assigned piano song in addition to her own. Of course, she could play it better than I could.
My mother calmly pointed to the timer and reminded me that it had to do with the amount of time I practiced compared to her. I jumped at my opportunity to bring back my recurring plea to just be done with lessons.
Very specifically, my mother asked, “Well, what if you want to be a music teacher someday?”
I laughed and informed her THAT would never happen.
And thus, to my relief, weekly minutes of inflicted piano practice ended.
Charting the Course
Fast forward five years. Upon entering college, my school of hard knocks father encouraged (insisted) that I gain a degree that would lead to a profession or to immediate accreditation for employment. I assured him it would be all good; lawyers were a much needed entity in society.
By the end of my freshman year though, I had been convinced by a few professors to also consider a career as a teacher in the field of education. Not wanting to give up the possibility of law, I decided to work towards an English degree and take a few education courses to keep the door open.
Soon, I was immersed in an English Secondary Education degree.
Sometime in this journey, I was reminded of my dad’s speech about being “marketable.” If I wanted to teach I should have a few other desired “teachable” things in order to secure a teaching position upon graduation. It was time to take inventory.
What else could I do?
I liked art, I liked drama, and so I dabbled in some courses. And then, as I was sitting in band that day (somehow I had secured a spot in the Concert Band), I started thinking about music and what that might entail. I had quit piano, had never really sung a note, but could apparently play a mean trumpet….
So it began…
I re-enrolled in piano lessons, stalked (I followed a freshman to the audition room where they tried out for choir and hid behind the door) the vocal auditions for choir so I would know what to sing for auditions and practiced all summer in the car along with their published choir recordings.
Somehow, I painstakingly made it through all the hoops (and there were many) of a Music, Secondary Education English and Elementary Education Degree (I added one in the end, you know…just to be “marketable”).
The journey to my music degree was hard. I almost threw in the towel many times. I was a Canadian who played one instrument; my American counterparts switched instruments like I switch shoes. They seemed to have been born singing in four part harmony while I, on the other hand, didn’t even know which line of music to follow at my first choir rehearsal.
Proving them wrong
I sure wished my Momma had forced me to keep on with those piano lessons. Many times I felt inadequate and just wanted to give up (and might have even been encouraged to do so). In the end, I may have just pursued this degree out of spite, and to prove that a Canadian could actually acquire this degree.
Somehow, despite feeling inferior to my rock star fellow music students, I made it through…but it was now time to put all that knowledge into practice.
It was time to student teach.
I needed to complete two student teaching placements, but had three specialty areas (thank-you Dad for the marketability lesson). Naturally, I chose high school English and grade 6 practicums, because you know…I got the music endorsement, but with no real intention of utilizing it.
Upon time to actually face the future and put my marketability to the test, it was time to apply for jobs. I sent my resume everywhere! I practiced interviewing with American schools I knew couldn’t hire me, just to make sure I was all practiced up for when it really mattered.
You’ve been chosen to…
I started getting calls from Canadian schools shortly after and was left with a decision to teach grade 5 away from home, or to teach K-8 music in a school closer to family. God truly has a sense of humour…I took the music job (insert “thank-you” to my professor for the encouragement).
Upon acceptance of it, I dialed home, put on my best Dutch accent, identified myself as the secretary of Surrey Christian School (even though she didn’t really have an accent) and upon hearing my mom’s voice, told her she had been requested as an accompanist for their elementary school choir.
Confused, she asked how they had gotten her number and asked who in the world their music teacher was. At this point, I simply laughed and responded with, “Mom, it’s me!”
The rest of the story is history, but I’ve been humbled by the irony of it all. Most importantly though, I’ve learned a valuable lesson about how God can use something you feel weak at to become something that is your strength and passion.
What have you said “never” to?