This week I finally retired from a 31-year career of teaching music. During those years I taught private lessons in piano and guitar, even oboe. Also taught preschool music classes through Kindermusik and Musikgarten, classroom elementary general music, beginning band, and directed many children's and adult choirs. I've lost count of how many Christmas Concerts and Spring Programs I put on.
It all started in 1990, when my 9-year-old son missed the children's choir, from our former home in Montana, after we moved to Michigan. At his urging I started one at our new church home in Tawas City, Michigan. One thing led to another after that, as God slowly nudged me into a field I never thought I was qualified for. The children's choir led to adult choirs, and my piano teacher in Michigan, Kaye Phelps, encouraged me to begin teaching beginners. She mentored me and knew when to push me, as I learned more than I could ever have imagined. Teaching something really increases your learning, I discovered. By the time we had to leave Michigan and return to Montana, I'd been teaching music over 16 years.
During this same period, the Lord got me in the "back door" of a Master's in Music Education program at Concordia University, near Chicago. I was able to take my classes there in the summer, so I could continue my music teaching jobs in Michigan, and graduated with an MME in 1998. I still look back amazed that I was admitted to a Master's of Music program with no Bachelor's degree in music. My BS was in Biology and Environmental Education!
When my husband retired and we returned to build our retirement home here in Montana, part of the floor plan included a music studio. Here I taught students of all ages, from preschool through senior citizens for another 15 years. Once I reached 70, I knew it was time to retire, and move on. God had morphed me into a music teacher by giving me the skills I needed. It was not my talent, but His, and He deserves all the glory. He provided me with what I needed to do the ministry He called me to.
I have been blessed with getting to know over 500 students over these past years. And many tell me that I have blessed them, too, with the gift of music--whether they moved into music teaching and performance themselves, or just enjoy playing or listening to a favorite song. Those are things, I still hope to do. Some of the most-beloved songs of my teaching years now bring tears of joy to my eyes.
I don't know what God has in store for me around the next bend, but I know He has a plan. Right now it looks like I'll still be writing some historical fiction, and doing acrylic painting. (The music studio is already in the process of being converted.) One of my favorite composers, Johann Sebastian Bach, wrote these letters at the end of every piece he composed: SDG. They stand for the Latin words, "Soli Deo Gloria" -- To God Alone Be the Glory! That's my motto, too.