Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Back to School!

We're here! We've made it though a hot summer, and students have returned for the 163rd session of Rhodes College. Classes begin today at Rhodes College, and I couldn't be more excited. I'm teaching one class this semester, Music: A Sound Experience, and I'm eager to apply the lessons I learned when I taught the course in the spring. I have a clearer understanding of what does work and what does not work for my students.

I love to teach; it's one of my most heart-felt passions in life. My job requires me to do so much more than impart a series of facts that will paint a chronological narrative of Western Classical Music. I seek to invigorate minds and to encourage my students to ask, "Why are we studying classical music? What purpose has it served civilization in the past? What is its purpose now?" I want my students to understand that music does not exist in a vacuum; music has been and will always be a product of people - the people who write it, perform it, produce it, and consume it. By the end of this semester, my students will hopefully be able to distinguish a Beethoven symphony from a Stravinsky ballet, but more importantly, they will know why we have placed music and certain so-called "masterworks" on the pedestals of immortality.

I love music. There has been one constant in my life, and that is music. Even before I knew Jesus, I knew music. Music allows me to express my story, my thoughts, my fears, my joys. When I hear music that I love, I want all my friends to hear it; music, therefore, builds community. We build community when we sing in choirs and play in bands. We build community when the symphony shares their final product to an audience. Music is not a luxury for the rich or a commodity to be bought and sold; music is vital to life. If you believe that music is but an elective for your life, then I challenge you to suffer an entire day without hearing music on the radio, on the TV, on your computer, on your iPod, and even in your head.

I love people, and I especially love college students. People aged 18-23 have a curious energy to them; their questions are more urgent and sincere than most people. There is an openness to learn things that adults don't have and children don't quite appreciate (although we all can learn a lesson on learning from children). Whereas the child blithely, persistently asks "why?" or "what is that," the college student asks these questions with more purpose and intent. These young minds are eager to grow and to become their best. You don't succeed in college unless you want to learn and grow, and I am blessed to teach at a college full of those students.

I love Rhodes College. I do. It's my alma mater, and it's my home. I love my students and my colleagues on faculty. I love the architecture that surrounds me when I walk through the Quad. My heart skips a beat when I hear the rumblings of the giant bell in Halliburton Tower swing on its axis, and then a deep, brassy tone peels across campus and into Midtown. I spent four years as a student at Rhodes. Now I'm beginning my second year as a teacher at this institution.

It's a scandal to have life so good.

Off to school! Wish us all luck and Providence.

Until next time,

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