Friday, July 17, 2009

the reason why i have been a nutcase for a while now

Portfolio: check.
this thing has been sucking all my time and vitality, in a mostly good but really suction-sucking way, for a while now. I can't believe it's done.
I pause to look at it sitting next to me, with sewn pockets for dvds and four rings binding the top--what IS this thing. my whole life, basically. trying to convince paul broomhead that my life course should be allowed to run the way i want.

but i already know he is going to leap for joy when he sees this thing of beauty and wonder. he is going to not just pat me on the back, but, perhaps, take me in a full bear hug because he is so refreshed by my creativity and charm and he will say, "gosh, brooke, i don't even think you NEED to go through the program. here is a diploma, and you can go teach at ron clark and bell and ride off into the sunset of blissful happiness. go ahead, congratulations."

the weight of trying to make my biggest dreams in the world happen in a few short weeks has been...crushing. crushing like pressed flowers, when you get something concentrated and new and beautiful...

SO ANYWAY. I'm done. And you can read my first essay today, if you want. They told me analyze your motivation to teach, tell us when you decided to teach, and hey, how committed are you to this career. Pmff. I wanted to refer them to this blog like seventeen times. I will probably post the second one as well, but for now, here is the first. quite fitting that my 100th post is about being a music teacher.


I love soul music. I can be found rolling out of bed to Aretha Franklin wailing “Respect,” blow drying my hair to her gospel croons of “Can I get a witness?”, and dancing all over campus to “What a Friend We Have In Jesus” with my hand as a microphone. I’ve always been adamant that music isn’t music without soul; without feeling. It is this element that has molded my own soul, and planted in me the desire to have a hand in sculpting others.

I want to shape souls, human ones; through my own passion, my feeling, my music. There is no more direct avenue to this end than teaching music in public school.

Public school music gave me a great experience. I felt the mysterious magic of music and knew I wanted it all my life, and choir was enjoyable and enlarging. But I never pictured myself ending up as a public school music teacher until I was at a choir concert after my first year of college, with a lot of experiences to fuel the musical fire but no major to claim. I had tentatively decided to major in music, but there were still doubts—especially about teaching—that ate my deep desire and digested it to disdain. The fear that paralyzed me: what did I have to offer students more than someone else?

But as I sat there at that choir concert after a year of constant struggle to figure out who I wanted to be and how my dreams fit in with reality, something happened. I sat there with my mouth unhinged, paralyzed, and the chills would not stop. It was then that I first said to myself, “this is what you’ve got to do. Nothing else is going to cut it—you have felt the joy and wonder of music all your life, but you’ve tasted this feeling now, this feeling that is somehow different. You are a teacher, and you are enough. You will bring things to the table that nobody else in the world can, and those are your passion, your deep spiritual connection to this medium, your vision and devotion--these feelings you have right now. And there is no turning back. Your heart has been given away to this—you’ve got to be a music teacher, and that’s that.”

It hit me then, that teaching music was all I had ever actually wanted to do and I had been fighting it because I was afraid. Afraid of the failure; of the success, too. I tried not to be a music geek—talking about music all the time and thinking about music all the time and being like, "Music is my life blah blah” all the time—but, I had to confess: I was a music geek. To the core. Music is such an incredibly basic part of my makeup, like water and oxygen; it is intertwined and woven and stitched in me so deeply that it can't be separated from the intangible qualities of Brooke Beecher and I've got to shout about it!!

So teaching gives me a podium from which to shout; not a podium for preaching or my own accolade, but one that gives a standing point from which to see change in people over time. As a ward choir director while still in high school, I got a first glimpse of the change I could facilitate. Under my direction, choir members learned music as something that made them better people, as an avenue for finding Christ. I saw their faces light up as they grasped the concepts, and I heard them sing differently with faces newly alight. I got to see faces light up again as a Relief Society teacher; we discussed the gospel, we “[understood] one another, and both [were] edified and rejoice[d] together” (D&C 50:22). I began to see the parallels between teaching the gospel and teaching music, experiencing the same edifying and rejoicing—these added drops to the bucket of my desire to teach music.

The tipping point came when I was given a rowdy six-year-old Primary class. Under my tutelage, I watched them go from flying limbs and all manner of screaming, wailing, and whining to arms folded and minds affixed. I sat back in awe, realizing that the expectations and love that had come naturally to me, coupled with hard work, had actually facilitated change. The outcome left me in awe because the process was almost imperceptible, changing from moment to moment—a process alive to me in a way no other endeavor ever has been. I began to realize the greatest joy I found was in setting high expectations for these children, and being the person who saw their potential and pushed them with love and patience. It was this experience that was the epiphany for the niche I have discovered as a music teacher in inner city schools. The lack of discipline and stimulation from the arts found in these schools touches a deep desire inside of me to love people in a way that helps them see the world in a new light; this light is the joy and capacity of music to lift the human spirit and take us to greater heights—not just as musicians—but as human beings.

And so you see, I’m not just a singer; I am a teacher. The seeds of both are planted in me, to work together and bring forth something uniquely me—to make some girl from a small town in Utah into a teacher in urban schools, who molds souls and minds. This process, however difficult, is the path most congruent with my life goals: to change people for the better and to guide others in their spiritual and emotional journeys to find themselves and Christ. Because I have found Christ so beautifully through music, it is the lens through which I can help others see Him with the most clarity. Music fills me. It fills me to overflowing, so that I have to share it; body and spirit, music is magic. I want to be an instrument of that magic in another’s life.

I want to shape souls, human ones—with my soul. This can be done most directly through the medium of music that has shaped my soul so poignantly. My vision of being a music teacher who does this is too clear to be clouded by doubt any longer; I am fiercely committed to making this vision reality.
“Can I get a witness?”


Macy said...

Brooke, may I be the first to post a comment?? This essay made me cry, and laugh, and cry again and again. It is so beautifully written and Brookesque in every line...your soul does indeed shine through. Yes, sister, here's a witness!

kendra said...


OHhohohoho! I got chills.

If it were up to me, you would go straight to ron clark. ;)

Claire said...

E'rybody lovin this essay say Yeah!
I just kept saying "Yes!" over and over as I read this. Everything is so polished, but you kept your voice. If Broomhead doesn't stand up and belt Hallelujah at the top of his lungs, then...well...he WILL stand up and belt Hallelujah!
I am so proud of my Brookie. Let's celebrate tonight.

Lyndsi Shae* said...

Way to not sacrifice your soul to the formality of an essay. I can hear your voice in this! I can feel all the parts of that voice that I don't personally know... yet. I am SO proud of you.

(My verification word is: SHOUT RAN. How appropriate.)

brooke said...

these comments made me bawl, you guys. i LOVE. thanks for being good to me.

Ellen said...

Brooke, you dont' know me, I can say I am a friend of Claire (which I am) but we have never met. Your title caught me eye off of Claire's blog and I started to read. You will be a great teacher because you want to inspire and share what you have been blessed with. Best to you. (p.s. maybe you know Aimee my daughter)

brooke said...

Steve--maybe I'll whip out that the mother-in-law neighbor card if I get desperate.

Ellen--I do know Aimee, and I think she is just great! Thanks for your confidence. Somehow it has a great meaning precisely BECAUSE we have never met, an unbiased opinion. Thank you for that.