Below is an article from the famous American singer, John Legend. He discusses the impact teachers had on him while dealing with the psychological and emotional fall out of his parents divorce. As a teacher, I am reminded quite a bit that not only are we dealing with the instruction of music, but so much more in our students lives. Teaching is a wonderful profession, but there is something about being a Music Teacher and realizing for some students', music class is an escape from life for a moment. This is one of the reasons WHY MUSIC EDUCATION is so vital.
He gave an inspiring graduation speech at his alma mater, The University of Pennsylvania, earlier this year, and now John Legend is opening up about the obstacles he faced on the road to his Ivy League education.
"I was 10 years old when my parents got divorced," he tells PEOPLE. "It's a pretty common story in America, and it's a pretty tough time for kids, especially if they're still at home in the middle of growing up." Acknowledging that "seeing his family fall apart was a traumatic moment" in his life, the "All of Me" singer says he's thankful he had his teachers to fall back on.
"It was important to have teachers and counselors at school who could give emotional support," says Legend, 35, who is working with Turnaround for Children in the hopes of improving in-need public schools through teacher training. "All of these people took extra time to show me that they cared and were going to hold me accountable."
Over the years, the Grammy winner has visited several schools in New York that have received training from the organization. "It's exciting to know that they see a real difference … in test scores and morale," he says. "[The students] were really happy and felt like there was much more support for them."
Legend himself was homeschooled for several years, then went on to finish high school in the public education system before graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with an English degree.
"One of the most determining factors of your success in life is whether you stick with something," he says. "Finishing school is a manifestation of that." 7
*Article is sourced from People.com
"What do you want to be when you grow up?", "What do you love to do?", "A Singer."
These are two questions I often ask my students, and the answer I usually receive. It is great to have ambition and dreams of something great, like being a performing artist, but there is so much more to it then just going on stage and singing. The next few blog posts will look at some of the components needed to become a professional singer.
First I would say: LISTEN! Even before you begin formal singing lessons, this is something you should-Listen to as many singers and genres of music that you can: Country, Pop, Jazz, Blues, Roots, Classical, Opera, Native Throat Singing, African, Indian, Iranian, Asian, etc., as many cultures as you can-why? Because you want to be exposed to as much music as possible, but also, to expand your ability as a singer and not get stuck in one genre. It is great if you are able to sing, Blues, Country and Pop; or Opera, Pop and Musical Theatre, or what every combination you want. However, in saying this, although expanding your singing capability is important, I would focus on one of the 3 genres to be your strength, it is better to excel at one and be well versed in a couple others, then to be mediocre in 3 genres. For example, Kelly Clarkson (first American Idol) was seen mainly as a 'pop. singer', but has also crossed over into country. Taylor Swift came out more as a pop/country singer. Being able to 'cross over' is a great asset as a professional singer.
So, go to your local library if need be, or free streaming sites, or download off itunes and listen to great artists, like Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Joe Williams, Nina Simone, Carly Simon, Carol King, Simon and Garfunkl, Sarah Harmer, Serena Ryder, Melissa Etheridge, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, Areatha Franklin, Jane Monheit and so many more.
Listen to where they breath in the song, how the slide their notes, how loud or soft they go, if they draw out the phrase, if they use a 'character voice', try to harmonize with them, etc. Listen to the music behind the artist as well.
STUDY IT, ANALYZE IT, IMITATE IT.
Music is not just about writing chords with beautiful melodies or harmony, it is the essence of delving deeper into one's soul. By touching ones emotions that are hard to feel, and yet, are so necessarily needed to be free with one's self.
Music is not just words on paper, but it is the stories of our lives to be told and honoured, to be shared and to be helpful to anyone who would like to listen. It is an imprint of a moment in time for the story teller to give to an audience as a lesson, or a lesson for the singer.
Singing is what connects us, to our mothers' in lullaby's, to our fathers in gentle tunes, to our relationships with our brothers and sisters dancing in the living room.
Music is a part of our daily lives in the chirping of the birds, the movement of a river, the wind in the trees, or the rustling of leaves.
Singing-making music is part of the soul's expression; an honour to have and to hold and to express.
Express your diversity and discovery.