My first week at W.O. Smith was exciting and frightening at the same time. I didn't realize how hard the staff worked to make music education available to kids who would otherwise not have music in their lives. The week I started was the week of performance evaluations, which is arguably the busiest week of the semester. Each student who has had lessons needs to play in front of a "jury" or a "panel" as they are referred to in the music world. This group evaluates the students' performance. Evaluations were a great opportunity to meet the students at the school. I sat in on about 100 student performances over the course of the week. Students ranged from beginners who could only play a few notes to one high school girl who sang an original song and accompanied herself on piano. She reminded me of the need for a program at the school that will develop students' creative abilities. I met several students like her who wanted to write their own music.
I was also able to sit on a staff meeting, a Program Committee meeting and a One Note One Neighborhood meeting. These meetings gave me great insight into the administrative workings of the school. As Lynn says, "W.O. Smith hovers in the grey space between a social services organization, a non-profit, and a music school." There is no formula to follow. They are always on the frontier. This is exciting because it enables them to be creative and innovative.
The frightening aspect of my week was realizing what a big task I had undertaken. I quickly confirmed my suspicion that there is no curriculum currently in existence that will fit the needs of this class. I may have to write a text book. Also, although it may be cliché, I realized that I did not have all the answers. Yes, I had an ego check. Yes, I am even more determined to do a great job.