Thursday, April 25, 2013

Beginning to Feel the BURN

Thursday, April 25, 2013
When we think of how our life, career and dreams will pan out, we often think of all the wonderful things that will happen to us and never really think of the reality. This is probably why there are millions of people in the world suffering from depression (One of the many reasons, I'm sure!). But then again, who really wants to think of the bad things or "REAL" things that might happen.
I have been performing music since I was 5 years old. I have always had a knack and talent for music and I knew at a VERY early age that music was going to be a big part of my life. In fact, I figured out when I was only a freshman in high school that I wanted to be a teacher, a band director specifically.
I was VERY ACTIVE in sports, clubs and pretty much everything in Junior High and High School but through all the things I did, I never received the personal attention and care that I needed and DESERVED until I was in band. I was part of the volleyball, basketball and many other sports teams where I was just part of the team but the coach or sponsor never really focused on me. When I was in band as a 6th through 8th grader just learning how to play the saxophone my band directors would stay late into the afternoon to help me and some of my peers. They would help use learn songs we were playing in band class as well as help us prepare for other solo performing opportunities. Often times when my dad would come and pick me up from the band hall, all of the other teachers were long gone and sometimes even the principals and administration would be gone as well. My band teachers really took the time to help their students. I learned as a freshman in high school as my Volleyball coach left in her convertible before my dad even picked me up from a 4:30 practice that I wanted to take the time to help students just like my band director did. He had touched my life and made me feel like somebody important, just by being there for me and taking the time to HELP me. I knew right then and there that I was supposed to do that too.
From that day forward, I have had the blinders on and been on what I thought would be a path towards greatness in a career of Music Education. I went to OU in Norman, OK and was so determined to "get out there" and teach band that I took a 140+ credit hour degree that is usually completed in 5+ years and gradated in 4 years. In fact I was one of only a handful of OU Music Ed graduates EVER to do so. I just wanted to teach SO BAD!
I graduated from OU in May of 2005 and in June I was offered a job teaching at "Smalltown" , OK (Name to remain secret...). I would be teaching K-12 Music and Band. I was THE music department. It was a very small class C school in Eastern Oklahoma with an entire school enrollment of only 400. I taught elementary music, beginning band, intermediate band, marching band and even Jazz Band. But even after just 1 year, I was wanting more from my career and wanted to get closer to my home of Norman, OK. I got married in the spring of 2006 and in June 2006 I was offered a new job at a small school in a suburb of OKC.
I stayed at that job for 5 years and while there I had many emotions about the position itself as well as my career. There were days where I was elated with excitement about teaching elementary music and middle school band there and then there were days where, once again, I was left with a  desire with wanting more with my Music Education career. After my 4th year of teaching there, I tried to look for a job teaching High School Band so I could get that much needed experience of Marching Band. In 2008-2009, I decided to go ahead and start my graduate degree and attained a Master's of Music in 2009. At this time I still wanted to one day be able to teach at the collegiate level and get a PhD in Music or Music Education.
In 2009 I was blessed with our beautiful daughter Natalie Grace and my momentum took a slight turn as my heart was more with Natalie than with my career. But even with my blinders taken off for a short amount of time while she was a baby, I still desired to do more with my career. In 2009, Chris was laid-off from his business job and we began down a long road to where we are today. I continued to teach at that small school in the OKC suburbs during 2009-2011 and those turned out to be the best years of my career. I was awarded "Teacher of the Year" for my school and even "Teacher of Today" for my county! Even though I was not at a large high school teaching Marching Band like I wanted I was still make an impact on the students lives at my school and I was still doing what I LOVE... Teaching BAND!
In 2010, Chris changed careers and he too got into education. I think he has a gift for teaching and he does really well with kids. Within a few months of searching for a job in Math, Chris was offered a job teaching HS Algebra at a LARGE district in the Houston metro area. And just like that my "perfect" little job of teaching band had disappeared. I had wanted all my life to come back to Texas and teach band and now, even though I was FINALLY content were I was in MY CAREER, I would  get the chance to do so.
In the summer of 2011 I was on a mad hunt for a band job in the Houston Metro area. I went on several interviews and some of them were very promising. Some were going to be a haul of a commute (1.5+ hours each way) but I would be teaching band. In late June I decided that I was more "marketable" in Elementary Music since I didn't have that much needed Marching Band experience. Within days of applying for Elementary Music positions, I was offered 5 different interviews and 3 jobs. My current job was offered to me only 3 hours after the interview. Clearly, I was correct in making myself marketable in Elementary Music. Luckily, I took the job I am currently at and I have LEARNED a lot!
However, my heart is still with band and I really, REALLY want to get back into the performance side of Music Education. I have taught Elementary music at EACH AND EVERY one of my jobs and positions over the past 8 years but my heart has still been with band. During the previous 2 years, I have discovered that I still long to be in the band directors chair. That is where my PASSION is.
I have been job hunting for the past 4 years in a row... each year looking for band jobs. I know and realize that the band jobs usually don't come open until late in the game (Late April until June) but as I sit here and reflect my current state of emotions I feel defeated as I only see 2 band jobs posted and they are already full. Even with a Master's degree, I have been over-looked in these positions. I am so discouraged with my current position and depressed that I have even looked at other Elementary Music positions and of the 4 I have seen available I have been over-looked there too.
I realize it is VERY early in the Job-Hunting game but I feel as if I am in a deep hole that I may not be able to climb out of. My hopes and dreams of teaching collegiate band have LONG vanished and I have settled in the head and dreams for just teaching HS band and now I am so discouraged and depressed, I just want to teach BAND... I don't care what level, I just want BAND!
As a Music Education student (Heck, even a regular Education student) they would warn us about the dreaded "Burn-Out". They would say "The first 5 years are always the hardest and once you get past those you should be fine". I am currently in my 8th year of teaching and for the first time EVER I am beginning to feel the BURN. I LOVE music and I LOVE kids and I want to be able to combine the two but somewhere along the way (In the past 2 years especially)... my passion has diminished. For example, I am currently taking 15 minutes out of my designated 45 to teach math or reading on a daily basis! My personal Music Ed philosophy is based around performance and I believe students learn best by doing. I am just NOT getting that from my current position. I could go into much greater detail about my current frustrations but that is not necessary to understand my frustrations and sadness to the whole situation.
I went on an interview last week and the results did not turn out how I had hoped or even imagined but I know everything happens for a reason. As always, I know God is trying to teach me something from this happening in my life, unfortunately, I just don't know what He is trying to teach me.
As a 16-17 year old I dreamed of a life with a big happy family (That part came true... I love you Chris, Natalie and Luke) and myself being a band director and living the "Good Life". Over the past 8 years that dream has drifted further and further away and I feel as if right now that dream has almost vanished. I have such mixed feelings and emotions about the whole situation and I currently don't even know how or what to feel. I covet your prayers...
Even in the midst of this trial...

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