It’s that week again. The ONE week of the year that makes me miss teaching, and specifically miss teaching music, more than any other.
Music Educators’ Convention Week.
While that may sound like a snoozefest to some, I read an old Funky Winkerbean comic the other day that describes it best. Ready?
‘It’s like Spring Break for band directors.’
And not just band directors. Choir, orchestra and elementary music teachers converge by the thousands. From all over Texas. From out of state. It’s huge. There are not one, but TWO huge exhibit halls full of enough instruments and sheet music to bonfire New York – as well as enough fundraising cookies, sausages, candies and chocolates to feed a small country. Seriously. You can just walk the exhibits and eat samples all day without spending a dime. I’ve done it.
And then there are the workshops. Pick and choose from hundreds on any topic from How to Get the Snotnosed Kid With an Attitude Problem to Love Music to Fundraising 101 to Folk Dances from Outer Mongolia. Seriously. And each one of them is led by an expert in the field, recorded for future reference and most actually have door prizes. Good ones. Score!
And the concerts! Invited groups from all over the state. All levels from elementary choir to university orchestra. Winners of the state Honor Band contests. Usually a professional group or two. And to top off the weekend, the All-State ensembles’ concerts. AND MOST OF THESE ARE FREE!! What more could a total music geek ask for?
I’ll tell you. I wanna go. The Spouse headed out this morning and I’m seriously green. So jealous I could spit. Not because I miss the tantrums, the puke, the public school schedule and issues with helicopter parents.
I miss the camaraderie. The networking. The sheer possibility of professional learning and personal brain-stretching that I always experienced at Convention. The idea that a group of grown adults actually gather on a Thursday night for two hours’ worth of folk dancing – for the fun of it – makes my music-historian-geek start to drool. I mean it.
Oh, and did I forget to mention that all of this musical loveliness takes place in San Antonio? On the Riverwalk?
That’s where the Spring Break part comes in. Because in the midst of all the professional inspiration, you can walk steps to any one of the plethora of amazing restaurants and shops nearby. Take a break. Eat fabulous food. Hang out with old college friends, new acquaintances and colleagues. Network. And of course head down to Swig or Durty Nellie’s for some live music and/or a beverage if you’re so inclined. And the funniest part? You can spot all of the band directors a mile away – something about the briefcase, name badge and Dockers combo.
Can you tell I miss it? The idea of being kid-free with the Spouse, away from home, in San Antonio and getting professional inspiration all in one? Heaven. Nirvana. Whatever you want to call it.
But is it enough to make me want to go back there? To go back to teaching public school music to groups of up to 60 youngsters at once? No.
But I’m thinking a nice private school gig would suit me just fine. Now I just need to fit that into my day job and writing schedule.
What about you? What inspires you personally and professionally?