During Teacher Appreciation Week, I try and send some send extra love (which means extra emails). While I hope that your inbox are heart is full of love and affirmation, I still intend to do my share! The email below is something I wrote several years ago and to this day remains one of my favorites of all time. Please accept it once again as a sign of my love and respect for all that you do. I will return to my normal email schedule next week.
The leader of the band is tired and his eyes are growing old
But his blood runs through my instrument and his song is in my soul
My life has been a poor attempt to imitate the man
I'm just a living legacy to the leader of the band
- Dan Fogelberg, Leader of the Band
If you don’t know this song or the artist who wrote it, you should. In 1981 Dan Fogelberg wrote a musical tribute to his band director father that shot all the way to number one on the Billboard Music Chart. Through his poignant lyrics and soulful melody, Leader of the Band spoke in a powerful way to this crazy profession and the impact it has on people. The song and sentiment are truly touching and although the he wrote it for his father, it could have just as easily been written for you.
Your life and legacy live on through every student that passes through your program. Through your teaching you provide students with more than music lessons, you give them life lessons. This tribute song reminds us that teaching music is so much more than a profession and it can be accompanied by as much sacrifice and pain as joy and fulfillment. Music education is a calling, one that chooses us as much as we choose it.
In the coming days and weeks your students will leave you. Some of them forever, but that does not mean that you are gone from their hearts and minds. In part, they are a living legacy to THEIR leader of the band. But before they go, perhaps you could close the door of your office, take a break, sit back, and listen as Dan Fogelberg reminds us of the power of the Leader of the Band.
Please share this with every music teacher you know so that they are reminded how special they are.
With gratitude for all that you do...
p.s. If you would like a modern take on this classic tune and are a fan of the Zac Brown Band check this out.