Earlier this month the Connected Educator Challenge gave us a task to blog about a piece of music or art or poem that inspired me for teaching. Although this isn't directly about a piece of art or music, the task made me think more about the students that inspire me by their work.
The first thing that came to mind was the work of a student who I had in our full time School of Music course. This student was an interesting lad as he had struggled hugely in year 9 and 10, spending most of his time outside the Principal's office or being stood down. He struggled to write and he had dyslexia. He hated any form of authority and frequently told teachers where to go. He was frustrated, disengaged and didn't want to do anything for anyone. One day, one of our music staff suggested he learn the bass guitar. His eyes lit up and he became motivated to do music. After a struggle in Year 11, we took him into the School of Music (I will do another post on this amazing course). This seriously changed his life, but that's another story.
While he was in the School of Music he had to complete a research project on a topic of his own choosing. His research question was "Why and how are Mark Rothko's paintings so similar to the music of Joy Division?" He wanted to compare the art of Rothko with the music of Joy Division and see if there was a relationship between how art and music can affect people. He felt there was a strong link between the Rothko Chapel painting with Joy Division's song Decades.
He did a survey which presented people with a range of different paintings by different artists and they picked which painting suited the song. Interestingly, almost all of the survey answers chose the Rothko painting out of the 6 they were presented with.
It was the most amazing piece of work for two reasons:
- It was a research project written by a student who could hardly write a sentence just a few years before.
- To look at the relationship between art and music is such an interesting topic for a modern day student to pick and he really did a lot of in depth research about this.
The other thing that came to mind was a group of musicians I had the pleasure of working with this year. These year 13 students have shown me what amazing musicians can do - without me. Just by being given an opportunity to work together, these young lads reached a very high standard. They entered Smokefree Rock Quest as the band Forlorn Bloom and got through to second place in the Regional Final. This was outstanding because they didn't have a vocalist. I think it was the first time I have seen an instrumental group get so far through the Rock Quest process. They managed to make it to the top 20 bands in New Zealand with their original music.
My students always inspire me, and I am lucky enough to teach music which is inspiration itself.