Do music teachers ever retire? Not really!
The other night, I was attending a community foundation meeting for which I serve as trustee. One of the other members came up to me and made a little fun of the fact that he noticed I list my previous employment on the footer of my email.
Then it hit me. Most people retire and want nothing to do with the daily grind to which they were assigned during their career. Many want to forget everything and wash their hands of all memories of their former position(s) in sales, management, law, medicine, trades, manufacturing, service industry, etc. – perhaps, even non-arts related education!
Musicians and music teachers are definitely unique. Our job is really more of a “calling,” never just a place to go to work and earn a paycheck. We were inspired to make music and then share this fantastic process with our students and audiences. Our employment was never 9-to-5. And, all of the Performing Arts have no notion of a 9-to-5 goal… “Hurry up, let’s finish learning this piece, play it, and then go to the bar and have a few drinks.”
The mission of music education is to facilitate creative self-expression, to nurture understanding of ourselves, our culture, and our artistic heritage, and to seek out as many opportunities to “make music” in collaboration with other instrumentalists and vocalists. You have heard it before: “Music is lifelong learning!” That means there are no limits to lifelong participation in the arts based on race, color, religion, gender, sex, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, military status, and most importantly, age!
I know very few music education professionals who do not “bring home their music…” looking for more ways to experience it in their free time:
- Play, sing, act, or dance in a community ensemble
- Direct or accompany a church or community group
- Practice and go out on a few gigs with your own jazz, rock, Barbershop, or chamber music group
- Teach private lessons
- Coach or compose for local marching bands, etc.
All of these activities become magnified when you retire. Once we are “set free” from the day-to-day academic schedule, lesson planning, faculty meetings, etc., we can focus our attention on what we really love to do. We are probably the luckiest professionals alive… we want to revisit our creative roots, not run away from them.
My previous experience (on my business card or e-mail footer) is relevant and I will no longer apologize for sharing it. I am not “stuck in the past,” but focused on the future! It means I am still active in the profession, available to mentor or help others in the field, always learning and growing, and exploring new directions and avenues to inspire my own artistry.
How many of you retirees agree that you are really just moving on to different pursuits in performance and/or music education? Of course, the best part of retirement is that you get to pick what you want to do every day for the rest of your life. So go ahead and say yes to those extra conducting gigs, writing/publishing your own “Mr. Holland’s Opus,” working with the church or community choir, accompanying a handful recitals, volunteering to help your favorite local marching band or civic theater, serving as an adjudicator for a music festival, supervising student teachers or teaching college music education methods classes, etc.
As long as I am alive, I will continue to inspire in others that music makes a difference!
© 2016 Paul K. Fox
Other Blogs on Retirement Resources at This Site
- Tips on a smooth and well-prepared transition to retirement
- Maintaining a balance of good health, exercise, and happiness in retirement
- Advice from music teacher retirees to soon-to-be retirees
- Happy trails, retirees! PMEA retired members rock-on
- Retirement = reflection + renewal + altruism
- What I Learned from My Dogs… in Retirement
- It’s time to “dust off your chops” (join a community band/orchestra)
- Tips for retirees on managing stress during the coming winter celebrations
- Random acts and other resolutions
- Retirement = deferred gratification
- An engaged mind makes for a happy retiree
- Downsized and out… coping with unexpected loss of a music teaching job
- Sing your heart out, now and in retirement