Terminal Degree

life at a rural university in the South, accompanied by the sweet sounds of the kazoo

What we’re here for

on January 7, 2013

Today I spoke with a fellow kazoo prof who teaches in a nearby state. We talked about the challenges of recruiting in the rural South, and how hard it is for students who are financially struggling.

“Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about it,” he said.

(Well, of course, we all are.)

“So I’m now recruiting in wealthier communities instead. I really want to teach students who come in with all of the technique in place, who can really play, and who can afford to study kazoo.”

Well, sure. It’s a hell of a lot easier to teach students who come to school with everything ready to go. Some private pre-college kazoo teacher has done the hard work already. The student is primed to learn. That’s ideal. It makes the teacher’s job a hell of a lot easier.

But I don’t teach ideal. There’s nothing ideal about the heartbreaking poverty here. My kids are broke. Most have never had lessons before they study with me. We look for deals on music, I use IMSLP whenever possible, and I cheer them on every step of the way. The really serious students finally manage to scrape up the needed funds for new instruments by their junior or senior year. When they graduate, they will get jobs that pay over $30K/year — more money than some of their parents will ever make.

Sure, I’d love more of those “ideal” students myself. But it’s darned exciting to see such growth over a student’s 4-5 years here. What’s not to love about that?

One response to “What we’re here for

  1. It’s absolutely awesome and why we teach in the first place!

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