Friday, January 6, 2012


I recently attended a conference for musicians.  Before you are inclined to be impressed, let me add that I don't actually play an instrument.  Well, there was an ear-numbing year of violin in grade five, a couple years of organ instruction which culminated in a rousing performance of Never On Sunday (fortunately the inappropriate lyrics of this selection went right over my preteen head), and a stint of flute in marching band which ended abruptly after the instrument was stolen out of the back of the car.  I promptly joined choir and discovered that I love to sing, which is why I happened to go to the conference.

One of the sessions I attended was with an amazing vocal coach named Tim Carson.   He said something that has been resonating in my mind since:  "Open your heart and mind to your potential."

Under his tutelage, it would be entirely possible that my car and shower concerts would be worth listening to. He knows his stuff.  He knows how to listen, assess, and determines just what to zero in on to move a student forward.  When he demonstrated with a tentative audience member, I was reminded of the power of one-on-one conferring with a good coach.

I want my students to open their hearts and minds to their potential.  As their coach, I will listen, assess, zero in, and teach.  I want them to feel the same way I would feel if Tim were my vocal coach…."I am in good hands.  What he is telling me is important.  If I practice, I will achieve my goals."

Don't you want the same for yours?  Like Tim, we have to know our stuff.  We have to keep growing and developing our craft so the students in our care are in the best hands.  Gail and Joan, The 2 Sisters, have been instrumental in helping me refine my practice.  Professional books and beloved colleagues have also coached, mentored and pushed my thinking.

A new year is upon us.  Let's refuse to let the current educational climate squelch the spirit that called us to this profession in the first place.  Let's open our hearts and minds to our potential as teachers of the highest caliber.

(cross-posted at