When I was in first grade, my music teacher called my mother to thank her for her gift and to praise my performance in the Christmas pageant. I never was much of a singer, but unconsciously, I had swayed and clapped in time to the music. As a seven-year-old, Mrs. Voss’ praise was an unexpected surprise.
A few years later, I was in choir, but this time a different music teacher told me to stand still. I felt chastened and thought I’d done something wrong. Somehow, the joy of music faded a bit for me that day.
Before I started school, I could play piano by ear. I would move to the music -- that is, until I took piano lessons. Then my teacher told me I must sit still. Again, the joy of music dimmed for me.
Now that I’m older, I follow the adage of “dance like there’s nobody watching, sing like there’s nobody listening.” I realize that Mrs. Voss got it right — let children (or adults) be themselves and express themselves through music.
As an educator, I hope that there are many teachers like Mrs. Voss out there who bring out the joy — not the enforced conformity — of learning. As an adult who remembers that non-conformist little kid, I dance (sometimes awkwardly) to songs on the radio — I sing (badly) as I learn the ukulele — and I sway any time I feel like it when I play the piano.