Many years ago I tried out for a choir. I didn’t make it, but the director said something to me that stuck. “You’re singing like your last choir director. You need to sing like you.” They had enough soprano singers, and I was trying out for Alto using a darker tone that did not work for me.
We’ve heard “Be yourself” in many story lines of after school shows when we were children. To me, it feels like one of those phrases that say nothing, such as: “You are nice,” or “How pleasant.” Does this phrase really have a meaning? What is that meaning? This is something we need to not answer too quickly. It is something to be faced and explored.
I’m finishing up the second music teacher maternity leave that I’ve covered, and I am once again realizing what I realized last time. If I try to teach as I think the teacher before me taught, things don’t go well. There are strengths she has that I just don’t, and it is hard to maintain classroom management while floundering. But if I try to teach like me, things go very well. The children see the confidence and the excitement I have in what we are learning, and they catch it too.
Now, I don’t mean that I mustn’t honor the teacher’s instructions. But it is how I teach what the teacher asks that really makes a difference. When I have successful days I ask myself this question: “How will this help children to eventually write their own music?” I frame the lesson around my knowledge that what we are learning is a piece in that puzzle. I’m a songwriter; when I do this, I’m teaching from who I am. And it works. For another teacher, their self question will be different. There will be something else that will be the deeper meaning of why they do what they do. When they ask this, they’ll be teaching from their core too. We bring who we are. If I’m invited somewhere, I bring the gifts that I have to offer.
We need to develop our weaknesses, and often there are things we just have to do. Sometimes what we think are weaknesses are really strengths. But when we are working with and out of that which truly moves us and brings us to life, we shine.
It is very easy to get caught up into doing something “the way I think I’m supposed to,” when I could adjust that very thing to fitting who I am better, and no one would mind. The expectations that I perceive others have of me aren’t always really there, and if they are, there are creative ways to work with this, becoming more and more ourselves not only for our good, but for the good of all we encounter.
May God bless your day. May it be full of amazing things.