May 10, 2010 Steve Wright: “in that one moment I was given a gift”
I have many stories to tell about the power of art as I am now a music teacher but I was saved by art in Grade 9. I was completely, utterly un-interested in any academic pursuit and had pretty much resigned to the fact that I simply didn’t fit the system, when my English teacher commented to me that I was always doodling and scribbing. He asked me what I was writing and I told him “just poems and songs and stuff.” Since I was uninspired by anything else in the curriculum, he told me in private that if I filled up a binder full of songs, poems and drawings he would mark it equally as the other assignments. In that one moment I was given a gift. I was astounded, and felt like what I wanted to do had value. Not only that, but it gave me hope knowing that even in the rigid school system a teacher could be an individual and make personal judgement calls.
I wrote like mad and was critiqued, applauded, questioned and marked. It was our secret. It went on through grades 10 and 11. I went on to be a songwriter and musician performing with various groups and bands including the CBC Radio Orchestra. Years later I wrote that teacher a letter and told him how much his embracing my creative force inspired me and changed my life. He wrote back saying “I recognised your handwriting right away…”
I now hold sound and music workshops for kids, youth and adults with developmental issues. More than teach them how to make music, I try to give them the space and encouragement to appreciate the experience of being creative in the moment. To me music and art in general is a living space where we can try out new thoughts, put on boots bigger than our own, and write a letter across time. Taking music out of schools will hurt students chances in all other areas of learning.
Sound and Music Educator