I come from a family of teachers. My mother and grandmother were teachers, as are numerous uncles, aunts, and cousins. As a child, I used to pretend to be a teacher, leading lessons (complete with chalkboard!), writing and grading worksheets, and taking attendance, just as my mother did in her math classes.
After falling in love with the violin in the third grade, however, my thoughts moved toward performing. I took at least one private lesson a week and played in orchestras and chamber ensembles at school, waking at 6 A.M. daily for seven years. I spent hours in the car each week traveling to and from youth orchestra rehearsals in another state and private lessons at my teacher’s home nearly three hours away. (I ultimately studied with this teacher, and another man, while a student at Harvard University.)
While a graduate student at Juilliard, I enrolled in a class in which I learned to become a Teaching Artist, a professional musician who uses her instrument to engages students in the classroom. I taught for Carnegie Hall in schools throughout New York City, taking buses, trains, and ferries to schools in Manhattan and the surrounding boroughs. My dreams of becoming a teacher and a performing musician were coming together!
Although I was used to traveling extensively with my violin, I would have never dreamed that it would bring me to Thailand! But, after two flights, nearly 30 hours of travel, and more than 9000 miles, I arrived in Pattaya! On Tuesday, October 20th, I woke and eagerly prepared for my first day at Regents International School. Although I had already met all of your music teachers in August at The Juilliard School, I was still anxious for my first day. My nerves were quelled when I was greeted by a smile from Somboon, who drove me to and from school each day.
After arriving on campus, I was welcomed by Ms. Andrews, Principal Blaikie, and numerous other faculty and staff members for coffee and refreshments before I made my way to the Primary building, violin in hand, to perform for and observe my first classes! Having taught at the Primary level for many years, I couldn’t help but join in. As we moved between activities in classes, students would migrate closer to where I was sitting, whispering questions to me when possible. I made lots of friends and felt myself effortlessly becoming part of the community.
On Wednesday evening, I joined Principal Blaikie and the music staff for the Juilliard Music Curriculum Evening. I was thrilled to play the King’s Anthem with Seobin Moon before performing a solo and sharing a presentation about the Juilliard program (my imaginary teaching practice from childhood was paying off!). While I could have spoken about our wonderful collaboration all evening, I was most excited for the Year 5 and 8 students to share what they have learned about Jazz and the Blues. As a writer of the Juilliard music curriculum, I was thrilled to see the resources coming to life!
I dreamed of becoming a teacher and musician as a child, yet I could have never imagined that my passions would have taken me to Thailand. I am thrilled to be the SE Asia music curriculum specialist and I look forward to many more memorable experiences on my next visit to Regents in February.
Article by Kathryn Andersen, SE Asia Juilliard Curriculum Specialist