Something strikes me as I look across the stages I am playing on these days: most of the musicians I gig with are music teachers. They take their experiences as performers on weekends into teaching studios and classrooms during the week.

 

Being a musician might look like a whole lot of fun but there is a price to pay before you take the ride. You need commitment and resilience and behind every successful musician are hours, years, of personal practice.

 

It also takes music teachers to help connect students with their talents. Over the years I have heard people putting the boot in to music teachers using the line “those who can do and those who can’t teach”. Back in the day that saying was kind of funny and may even  have been true. In fact I think back then most music teachers were their own worst enemies.  I guess that’s why they were often stereotyped in old movies as fusty, female and fastidious. Anything but funky.

 

Most musicians I know who came out of last century’s music education system developed a love for music despite their music teachers not because of them.

 

We have all moved on. Music educators these days deliver on another axiom: “put your money where your mouth is”.

 

If you play music you are driven to pass the language on to someone else. It comes with the territory. The truth is that most musicians enjoy mentoring young players and navigating them through the colourful world of sound and meaning which is a life’s journey in music. It is a chance to hand down not just the techniques but also the history and the stories behind the songs. Music is just plain fun to talk about.

 

Music education has come of age. Rodger Fox holds jazz workshops in Nelson schools only days after returning from recording in Los Angeles with the Wellington Jazz Orchestra, Aly Cook teaches song writing to Moutere kids at Dovedale School the week after she wins Best Female Country Vocalist award for 2012. Kids are finally getting the real deal on music.

 

Many of these ideas are being initiated  by school principals and now some schemes like Play It Strange, Smoke Free Rock Quest and the Music Commission’s Music Mentor in Schools programme are fully embedded in our wider education system. Professional musicians now work in classrooms  and students receive the skills that can take them into a rich life in music. And the musicians build an audience.

 

Win Win.