Advocating for students

Once upon a time…
Long ago as a teenager, I auditioned for the local Nafme student orchestra. I had successfully taken these auditions and participated in the orchestras since elementary school.

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Recently there had been a new designation beyond the highest score that would determine participation in the all-state orchestra. It was known far and wide that mostly only seniors got into “all-state.” Strangely enough, I received this designation along with another violinist in my school even though both of us were juniors. Needless to say, I was thrilled. Long story short, he got to go but I didn’t.

A life changing experience
My school orchestra teacher had worked it out with the judge to dock my score because only one of us could go to all-state. To make things worse, she let other students, my peers, be the ones to tell me what had happened. She never said a word about it to me. My private teacher at the time was very passive and my parents didn’t feel strongly enough to do much advocating on my behalf. It troubled me for a long time.

Why tell this story now?
I feel very strongly that teachers need to advocate for their students. Parents don’t always understand the gravity of these early audition experiences. Not every teacher or administrator has a child’s best interest in mind. Even if they do, as their teacher, you know the student’s background including issues such as sensitivity and anxiety. As the teacher, you can educate parents and the school music community regarding appropriate professional practice. Happily, the following year I got the special designation again and played in the all-state orchestra.

Violinist Linda Beers is the creator of the Inspiration for Violinists, a 50 card deck. Each card has a unique image and text inspiring musicianship, mindfulness and spirituality.

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