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The Unforgettable Impact of Being A Music Educator

 

I have had the privilege of being a music educator for over 40 years, served as co-chair of LA Unified’s “Accent on Performance” district-wide elementary honors orchestra, and proudly joined Education Through Music-LA as a Board Member after being recognized with the Shining Star Music Educator Award in 2012. After meeting Executive Director Victoria and learning more about ETM-LA, I knew it was an organization that was in alignment with my values and music education philosophy.

Most music educators teach scores of students throughout their careers. We do our best to deliver the most comprehensive, standards-based instruction. The skills and intellectual knowledge are only a part of what a music teacher can bring to a child’s life. We hope the students go away with more than they came in with. But how do we know? If you are lucky, someone tells you the impact you had on their child.

About 30 years ago, I began my beginning strings class. A few students had the potential to make music a career, and most just wanted to play the violin. In preparation for the spring concert, I did my usual pep talk about diligent practicing so that the concert would be a source of personal pride. I always included the French Folk Song, as it was the piece I was chosen to play as a solo when I was 10 years old. I remember the dress I wore and the white carnation, blue sparkly ribbon corsage my Dad pinned on me to celebrate my solo. My mom kept that corsage and gave it to me when I started to teach. Each year, I promised to show the beginning strings class the 40-year-old corsage if they could get the piece ready for the concert.

They did their job and the French Folk Song was on the concert. They got to see the withered carnations and faded blue ribbon in the ziplock bag. They really didn’t believe I actually had it! The day of the concert came and all was set; the students in their chairs, me at the piano ready for the kids to begin. Ben, a child who was more reserved, and who never missed a class, quietly came up to me. Given his body language, I thought he might be ill or scared. His eyes looking down, he proceeded to hand me the most beautiful white carnation, blue sparkly ribbon corsage; an exact replica of the one my Dad had given me. In that moment, I realized that I was unknowingly connected to Ben. I started to weep.

Fast forward to a small explanation of the tears to the audience; the concert was a huge success, and then the parent parade began to congratulate me. Thinking back, I’m sure by design, Ben’s mom was the last in line. She looked into my eyes and said: “The only day there wasn’t a fight for Ben to go to school was Friday, violin day… you single-handedly saved my son’s life this year.” I didn’t have to need to know why. I remember that moment as if it happened yesterday.

Those words are the foundation of everything I do as a music educator. Music is the vehicle that connects the academic, creative, emotional, and spiritual intelligence of all children. More than any other time in my life, music must be present in all our children’s lives. It can be their lifeline to hope.

ETM-LA is filling in the gaps of public and private school music education. Until state funding mandates arts education for all students, ETM-LA is a lifeline to those schools which may never have the opportunity to have a sequential, standards-based music program. Providing music education to under-resourced communities is in the best interest of our society, and through ETM-LA’s music program, students have opportunities to experience things they may never have been able to.

-Linda Mouradian, Music Faculty / Music Educator, California State University, Northridge & ETM-LA Board Member