Preparations for the 2021 IBA Virtual Conference are off and running! And while the format of the conference is going to be different than what we are used to, there are going to be a lot of GREAT things for you to take advantage of, with some familiar faces and some new ones.
As I have worked through the process of connecting with musicians and educators from across the country, I’m reminded of what an incredible profession we work in. Both here in Iowa and across the country, musicians and educators have been fantastic about offering their time and energy to help our conference and our membership. As I watch the conference start to take shape, I am really excited about the way it’s progressing, and I know you’ll be excited to be a part of it as well.
February is always the most difficult month of teaching. Winter break and the holidays are well behind us, the weather is cold and snowy, and spring seems like a far off pipe dream. And that is in a normal year! We are all off our game this year, our students included. They need so much from us right now, and we are notorious for putting our own needs on the back burner so that we can give them what they need. But this time of year, and this time of THIS year in particular, we have to remember that we can’t give one hundred and ten percent to our students every day if we’re running on empty.
In his book Towards Center, author and master teacher James Jordan talks about the importance of finding and cultivating your center - that core of your being that both roots you to the earth and out of which emanates all of your passion and potential for meaningful connections and music making. Without a strong personal core, Jordan asserts, it is impossible for us to develop meaningful relationships or to have a lasting impact on our students.
By regularly investing in the development of a calm and focused mind, you add strength and confidence to your life and to your interactions with others. For some, this connection with your center comes into focus through a hobby, like woodworking or sewing. For others it is through exercise or meditation. We all have activities that will reground us in reality and allow us to center ourselves. And once we have done so, then “our communication and ability to connect increases tenfold and gives each of us an unmistakable and powerful voice.”
So this month, take a little time to breathe. Read a book, or exercise, or download a mindfulness app. Just don’t forget to spend a little time on refilling your own tank. Five or ten minutes a day spent locating and focusing your own center can make all the difference in the world - for you and for your students too!