Music Education in the Community

An illustrated drawing of musical instrumentsWritten by: Jenny Yang

Photo by: pch.vector on Freepik

My experience at Luke’s Place Coffee house as a facilitator has been very joyful this semester. The course I am enrolled in is Music Education in Community, consisting of upper-year music education students who are passionate about music and helping the greater London community.

Due to the pandemic, the coffee house has gone virtual, but that has not stopped my partner at this placement and me from creating exciting and interactive activities for our participants. I was able to share my culture as a Chinese Canadian by making a presentation on Lunar New Year, we solved puzzles together through three online escape rooms, and we even made dinner together on zoom. A moment that stood out for me was my Lunar New Year Presentation. I felt safe and welcome to share a piece of my culture and identity in the space. I was honestly feeling lonely and sad I was away from my family during the holiday, but the energy at Luke’s Place made me feel warm. Being heard, seen, and validated during a time where I am unable to see people face to face.

My previous thoughts on teaching and who I would become in the future have shifted due to the pandemic. There was a point where I felt sad that I would not be able to be in person, but that has not stopped my passion for connecting with others. Each week I feel excited to see folks from the community. I love catching up with familiar faces and meeting new ones. I have not had opportunities to explicitly teach music in my placement, but when I reflect on why I love music, it is because I love to connect and express myself with others.

Although I am only a student, my current teaching philosophy is now structured around the idea that teachers should teach the person first instead of the subject. This has given me more opportunities to practice listening to others and how I should interact with them. Additionally, at this placement, I have to work with another student, which is a wonderful opportunity for me to strengthen my cooperation skills. Connecting to others and understanding people is what drives me and motivates me to be a teacher.

When we dive too deep into a subject we can lose sight of who we are really teaching - the person.

A new skill I am very thankful for is practicing gratitude. Finding joy in the every day has been tough during the pandemic, but through my placement, I have found joy and the ability to still participate in social interactions. Just hearing what other people think, feel, and what they’ve been up to is so precious during these times. Catching up with the participants weekly lifts my spirits when I feel overwhelmed by the news or school. A place for people to feel welcome, safe, and heard is something I want to build in my future classrooms, similar to Luke’s Place.

Overall, I am very grateful to have had this opportunity to connect to the community outside of Western through Community Engaged Learning, and I will definitely keep in contact with Luke’s Place for the years to come.

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