As music teachers, we start our school year with high expectations for our students. And for those teachers who are starting beginning strings, band, or chorus, the road may not always be a straight path, and the destinations may not be clearly mapped, but therein are the seeds of adventure for a music teacher.
If we tell our music students that their instruments or voices are the key to the world they live in, and their passport to the world within themselves, the intrigue of such a prospect will have them thinking in a way that involves a journey into a universe of communication on a whole new level.
Would you care for a glimpse of the outcomes of your expectations when you offer this scenario to your elementary music students? Here’s a letter from four former members of my string orchestra who began studying strings with me in fourth grade. When they reached High School, we had a memorable concert tour with Encore Tours in France, performing for members of the American Embassy in La Madeleine, climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, visiting Chateau de Chenonceau, and performing in Chambord Castle before boarding the TGV high-speed train to Nice and Cannes.
Five years later, after they harmonized with the world, they still continue to feel the bonds that the concert tour created when we set a goal in fourth grade to perform overseas as musical ambassadors. This lovely letter is a poignant reminder to us as educators: our students may one day forget what we said, but they will always remember how we made them feel.
Hi Mr. Dilmore,
Every year since we graduated, me, Erin, Bridget, Nicole, and all our moms would get together to reminisce of our trip to France together. We would look at photo albums, scrapbooks, souvenirs, and videos we made. It is so nice to have our little group back together. This past April was 5 years since we went to France. So last week we had a special reunion since it was the 5 year mark. Everyone came to my house and everyone brought some type of French food. There was cheese, bread, cheese in bread, éclairs, cookies, pastries, and more! It was all so good! With that I had a little French ambiance with music playing in the background. We all just sat around and shared stories of what we remember from the trip. We all miss it so much. To top the night off, we relived the trip by watching our videos we made. Before everyone left we all took a picture together. I attached it here so you can see what 5 years does to all of us.
Thank you for giving us the opportunity of seeing such a beautiful country. I am so grateful to have my own key to the world, my violin.
I hope we all continue to reunite each year and relive the memories. Maybe sometime you can join us!
About the Author
Ward Dilmore is a recently retired music teacher from Wilmington High School, MA where he grew his string orchestra from 12 students to over 450, in large part due to his incorporation of foreign travel into the program. Ward initially traveled with other companies, but once he found Encore, he never looked back. He has taken his ‘Strings Attached’ orchestra overseas with Encore 7 times, in total taking over 1,200 students abroad during his years at Wilmington.More Content by Ward Dilmore