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Bonny Buckley

Career Steps Forward

February 11, 2009 at 4:18 AM


My heart warmed as a teacher when a 6th grade guitar student said to me, with an impish grin, in Russian English, “We almost missed you. It wasn’t any fun when you were not here!” It seemed the student was telling me that I made learning fun. I felt accomplished when an entire class of widely varying degrees of musical backgrounds and fluency in English aced a quiz on dynamics and no one was fretting or nervous about it. I felt close to another 6th grader when I happened to be near her in another teacher’s class for a short conference, when the student reached out to me to tell me she missed me.   I felt proud when a large class was listening closely to a piece of music, poising their pencils to express their personal thoughts and feelings about what they were hearing. Frequently students supplement their words with sketches. It seemed, and I hope I was not only imagining this in my mind, that students were eagerly anticipating this kind of assignment and thought process. 
All of this in one day. I guess my notice-ometer was on, for whatever reason. 
Maybe it is a combination of recovering from an illness, missing home and relationships, thinking about career paths and education, I don’t know. But I am beginning to wonder if I am meant to be a teacher as a true calling, in a good way. I have fought this idea. It has twisted around in my head for years now as I’ve been called one for what, eight or more years, usually juggling as many performances and recording contracts as possible. You learn some things doing this job that is much more than a job. You sometimes wonder who is learning more, you or your students.  
Yet the performer in me is itchy, wriggly and feeling stifled. What am I doing with a string quartet in the states and me living in Shanghai? What about the second food poisoning instance, again from a 5 star hotel, not to mention ongoing pollution issues.  The quartet is doing OK, for sure, surviving. More than surviving. People are still impressed and happy with our work. But it gets harder for me to say “our” work when I am not the one playing viola! 
Perhaps it is time to open up the throttle and make something happen for us--the quartet that is. After all, I came with the intention of setting up a performance for us here. I need to aim higher. Get with more people. Network. Set some things up. Get with the program. Nothing ever stopped me before except me, so how do I get out of my own way and get rid of any complacency.   And make up my mind whether to agree to renew my contract in Shanghai. 

From Pauline Lerner
Posted on February 12, 2009 at 3:04 AM

It sounds like teaching is your calling, or one of your callings.  Perhaps beong a teacher and a performer would suit you well.

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