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Teaching Music Doesn’t Mean You’re Stuck in a Classroom

Grace LamSometimes I’m sitting at the piano bench, playing a familiar piece, and I expect my dad to peek his head around the door.

“Was that you, playing?” He’d say, chuckling.

I want him to peek around the door when I’m playing, just one more time. So badly.

Maybe it’s cheesy, but it feels like no time has passed. I still play the pieces he printed, and I still remember. It feels like no time has passed.


My dad had a relaxed view about time. He reminded me to slow down and think about my options thoroughly. I suppose he was telling me to hold onto my reckless impulses for a few seconds longer.

You don’t learn about time inside a classroom.

I’m gradually feeling a different kind of pressure, which, one of my law profs put it best: women tend to feel a kind of internal ticking, which drives them to finish school faster and start careers earlier.

I look at my peers and they are doing amazing things–they own nice companies, work at big companies, or change something they hate about the world.

Sometimes I get out of bed in a happy mood, and that is saying something.


Once in a while, I get these washes of realization where I just know that something is right–call it a feeling in my heart or instinct, if you will. Do you ever get these?

At work, I had one: it sucks being alone.

I need to speak with more than two people on a daily basis about work, and I feel like a cog in the wheel. I also work in an office away from my team, so anytime I need to speak with someone, it’s a hike down the hallway.

At an advisory board meeting for a university in Vancouver, I had one: I’d like to be involved in education in the future.

As the Dean confided her challenges to the advisors, to making education more accessible to capable people, who perhaps aren’t the conventional best at performing in school (Dyson, being an example cited), I thought that this woman was articulating a lot of what I was feeling.

Equality is something I care about a lot, and almost everything I’ve done leads back to creating a more equal and diverse environment.

Maybe I don’t necessarily want to teach, but I do want to make education available to more people who are deserving of opportunity.

In music, people who enable learning–create curriculum, compose music books, run schools–are just as crucial to the learning environment as the people who do the actual “teaching.” Even if you taught yourself music, you found material to start learning, right?

And that makes me excited. I haven’t been this excited about something in a while. This is something I don’t know how to do yet, but I’m pretty sure I’ll figure it out in the next few years. That is saying something, right? I am talking about years instead of months.

Sometimes, that’s all we need to figure things out:

Time, to take it slow and steady.


P.S. I just discovered the term “flipped classroom“, where the the lectures are viewed at home and students gather in the classroom to discuss and do activities. This makes a lot of sense to me, so flipped = do work together, and explode = make education more accessible. Let’s flip and explode a classroom, y’all.

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