Sabbatical (part 1)

When I decided to take a sabbatical from teaching, I had no idea that it would become one of the best professional decisions of my life.  At first, I thought it would be a period where I would take time to relax, finish old projects, and try new things.  But I never thought it would become a catalyst for diving into pedagogical research and gaining clarity on what kind of legacy I want to leave to the world.

It didn't happen all at once though.  I started out with a strict schedule of practicing, composing, reading, and writing.  Yet, as with all things that are inflexible, it gave way to a more open-ended process.  I began to ask, "Why am I doing these things?  What's the big picture here?"  And I realized that I wanted to do more than just be a music teacher - I wanted to be a pedagogue.  And I wanted to reinvent the wheel.

My work was slow at first, as I gathered the research and curriculums of all those great thinkers who came before me.  I began to compare, contrast, and ask why they believed in their processes.  And as I worked through all fifteen of these other philosophies, I found agreeing with as well as refusing their ideas.  And through this process, I found myself solidifying my own beliefs on what worked and what did not.

I decided that I wanted to design an eleven-level curriculum that would take a student from first being introduced to the instrument to being ready to take an audition at a conservatory -and- I wanted one each for violin, viola, and cello.  Eventually, I hoped to create a series of books that would accompany my philosophy so that any teacher, no matter their level of skill or experience, could successfully teach a student from 'Day 1'.  Little did I know that I wasn't the only person interested in my project.

By chance or fate, one of my friends had returned to his home country of Kuwait and wanted to open a school that catered to Western music - it would be the first of its kind there, and he wanted my research to serve as the foundation for his institution.  I was at once flattered and overwhelmed by his faith in my abilities.  I redoubled my efforts, and began working with more purpose and passion than ever before.  If I succeeded, my work would be used internationally to raise a whole new generation of musicians halfway across the globe.

To be continued...