The latest issue of Choral Journal features an ongoing column written by retired choral conductors, for retired choral conductors. This month’s contribution was written by Linda Lovaas, a retired middle school choral music educator from California.
Following is a section of the article, which you can read in full in the May 2017 issue. ACDA members can log in with their username and password to view and download the newest edition. You can also read our electronic version. If you are not already a member of ACDA, join today to start receiving your monthly Choral Journal! Associate members can join for only $45 a year.
“I don’t call it retirement. I call it redirection!” I can still hear Dr. Ginger Covert Colla, a choral teaching colleague here in Modesto, California, saying this some years ago. I laughed at the idea and thought it was a great way to look at things, but I never really “got it” until I joined the ranks of the retired. What a perfect way of describing what happens to us in this time of life!
I loved my choral music job in junior high. I started in Texas, where I was born and raised. My dream was to go to New York and be a famous star—either opera or Broadway—or to teach college music. I got my teacher’s credential for backup, student taught at the high school level, and was hired in Texas City, a “blue collar” oil refi nery community near Galveston. It was in middle school. What fascinating creatures! I was hooked for life.
The biggest thing I miss about teaching is the contact with young adults. I fi nd myself seeing junior high-age students at the grocery store or at the mall, and I try to get them to talk to me. (No, I’m not stalking!) It is fun to make brief connections with the “skills” we have as teachers to be able to communicate with them. To help fill this void, I have also offered my experience to choir teachers around my area and have been invited to work with choirs in our county. It is a good exercise for my brain, and it is a great feeling to help guide students and their teachers in a healthy way. I really enjoy the connections and the happy feeling that I am a part of an exciting work community even though I am retired.
I’ve also realized there is a huge need for mentoring. Some teachers are like me and are loving retirement with a finger or two (or twenty) in the field still, helping out those who are still teaching and needing advice and someone to work with their choir or observe and offer help. Other retired music teachers I know do not feel wanted or needed anymore because no one contacts them. There is this huge gap between those who teach and those who are retired, and I am advocating to close that gap. We must reach out and continue to offer our services and experiences!
It is our job as retired choral directors to advocate the importance of our passion. It is sad how chorus gets lost in the funding, lost in the order of importance, lost in the need to nurture children’s souls with the instrument they carry with them every moment of their lives. Singing provides a solace in times of stress, grief, and happiness. We need to redirect ourselves to help those in the trenches to give our strength and our voice to help keep choral music, folk songs, classical, and new compositions up front and personal for all.
If YOU are an experienced choral conductor interested in passing your wisdom to the next generation (you don’t have to be retired!), please consider becoming a mentor through ACDA’s mentoring program! More information here. You can also contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.