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...