music, we are not fully human. As a child in public school, my whole
class would celebrate our music lessons. It was a time to leave the
classroom behind meaning our multiplication tables, handwriting
workbooks, history timelines, and reading groups we would weave as
quickly as we could through the halls to the music room. Another lover
of music in my life was my great-aunt Lib. A respectable music teacher
during the Great Depression, she instilled the value of reading music in
all the children of our family. As soon as my fingers were strong enough,
I began to play the piano. I became literate but never a Beethoven.
Great-aunt Lib said it didn’t matter. To her, music was not about being
the best; she just believed that we could become our best selves through
music. My great-aunt Lib never did give me a music lesson, but she
valued what I came to see as the most important thing the journey.
Music education has transformational powers, something we see over
and over again through teachers in the movies.
This transformational power of music in the movies is a
“journey,” a narrative device that cuts across genres but that is typically
developed in three ways in movies featuring good music teachers:
through practical pedagogy, through the liberation of students, and
through self-actualization of the student. In The Sound of Music (1965),
for example, viewers embark on a journey with the Von Trapp children
and Maria as she learns on the job to meet them at their level (Currin
201-7). Maria (Julie Andrews) provides the nurturance and guidance the
children need without ever having expressed expectation about the
lessons they learn and without putting pressure on them regarding their
ability to sing (which they do remarkably well, despite their lack of
exposure to music before her arrival). In this film, Maria never has to
comfort one of the children who is having difficulties with the lessons
she teaches them. I imagine if she had, she would have treated them
much like my great-aunt Lib did me—with reassurance that our
concentration ought not to be placed on the end result but on the
journey to that place. A moment particularly memorable to me in The
Sound of Music (1965) is when Maria reminds the eldest von Trapp child,
Liesl (Charmain Carr), of this same lesson that life is a journey and we
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