As my last post alluded I have a new assignment at work. I will shift from mostly teaching with a little administrative work to mostly administrative work with a little teaching. I’ll continue to chair the music department and will teach a few piano students and about one class one semester each year. For the other half of my time I will direct the Goshen Core Curriculum, our new general education program that was implemented last year. I’m looking forward to being in more focused administrative mode around two passions — a music department in a liberal arts setting and the liberal arts education of all our undergraduates — while still being able to teach some.
Before this came about I wondered what my practicing would be like if I didn’t teach as much. I am very aware of the ways in which practicing helps me integrate what I’m teaching. I have moments in practice when I notice I’m not doing what I encourage my students to do and the desire to end that hypocrisy helps me be more productive. Or a discovery, often about piano technique, is made in my own practice that becomes a useful theme in a future lesson with a student. It’s important to me that I still do some teaching so this integration continues.
I think piano practice could also be critical to my work as an administrator. Problem-solving happens as I play the piano. The other night as I practiced I found my mind wandering into messy work territory and within 20 minutes I arrived at a possible solution that helped me sleep better that night. I wish for a practice ritual each morning in which I play through several preludes and fugues to clarify my mind and set the day’s course. I hope an afternoon practice interlude, no matter how short, will energize and lead me into a few more productive hours. A benediction at the piano in the evening may help me process some lingering issues and feel some peace as I play the confident “amen” that ends each fugue.
My theory, then, in short, is that I will need to turn to the piano even more as an administrator. This new opportunity to broaden my work across campus and among the disciplines will test that theory.