(Editors note: Sorry for the title, but Scott’s juvenile mind and obsession with the Princess Bride win on this one. Despite my best efforts, I was unable to convince him to use his common sense, agreed upon spelling, or any other conventional adult norms, like understanding that coffee is not a part of the food pyramid.)
Now back to today’s article...
A article by Lila MacLellen of Quartz Magazine looks at long-term relationships and what makes them happier. In the article she cites a UC Berkley study that states that, "The first few years of a marriage are rife with conflicts, but given time, the emotional weather eventually changes, and bickering and criticisms give way to, humor—friendly teasing, jokes, and silliness.
In other words, marriage is a barrel of laughs if you can just eek your way through the first couple of decades or so…
As someone who has enjoyed fifteen years of wedded bliss I can attest to the general sentiment that with time comes understanding and with understanding comes a greater sense of respect and deeper love. I believe this, not because of me, but because after 15 years my wife doesn’t get irritated with my quirkiness and oddities so much as she laughs, accepts, and prepares for them. Right honey?!
(Editors note: Speaking of marriage, it's generally not a good idea to communicate with your spouse through national publications. But since she is one of his three loyal readers, we will let this one slide.)
And the concept of time helping to develop deeper bonds is not unique to marriage, it applies to music as well.
Shortly after we were married, my new wife accompanied me on our annual pilgrimage to band camp! (What woman wouldn't consider that an ideal honeymoon?) She was new to the "band world," and was taking it all in.
Just after one of our student led pre-meal thoughts, she said, “I envy you!” And after I responded with a lengthy list of reasons why that might be true, she said, “Not because of any of that. I envy you because you get to see kids in the summer, fall, winter and spring. You see them before school, during school, and after school. You see them both semesters and for four years. You see them on their good days, bad days, and everything in-between. She then said,
"You are like a parent to a lot of these kids. And, while every teacher hopes and wants to make an impact on their students, you music teachers actually do!”
The study went on to quantify that jokes and gentle humor were not the only heroic behaviors that showed up in greater abundance in relationships over time. All the positive ways behave toward someone became more evident as the years passed,. criticisms faded, and appreciation blossomed.
One of the benefits of teaching music is that we get the luxury of time with the same group of students. Over three to four years and thousands of hours, we get to be around these kids in good times & bad, happy & sad, and grow WITH them. Behind the endless rehearsals and constant contests, we are learning love, respect, and how best to teach and learn one another.
This is something that can be rushed. This isn't something you can fake or grow in a test tube. REAL respect, REAL appreciation and REAL understanding takes REAL time!
I WISH it were quicker. I WISH it were easier. I WISH it didn’t require such Herculean efforts. But then again, as someone who only spends three to four hours in front of a new group of kids each and every day, I WISH I had YOUR impact!
Spending time (years) with the same group of kids is what I miss most about teaching and has become my Christmas wish.