What is a teaching artist? — Weekly Inspiration from Crystal

This week’s Weekly Inspiration is written by Crystal, our oboe player and Director of Educational Programming.  Crystal is participating in an exciting program for teaching artists, and in this post, Crystal reflects on what it means to be a musician and a teaching artist.  Check back each week for more Weekly Inspiration from Fifth House Ensemble!

 

As director of Educational Programming, I split my time between curriculum design, teacher meetings, classroom teaching, and all of my other jobs (playing the oboe, making reeds, teaching little oboe students, rehearsing), not to mention my family.  So it’s rare for me to have the luxury to be with other teaching artists to network, tell stories about our experiences, and share best practices.  Beginning this month, I have that opportunity.  Through Columbia College’s TAD (Teaching Artist Development) Studio training program, I am privileged to join 24 other teaching artists from around the city, some of whom have been teaching longer than I’ve been playing the oboe!  We will be meeting weekly for the next several months, exploring how to deepen our arts teaching practices and bring more innovative arts education to the students we serve.  So what, exactly, is a teaching artist?  The definition is broad, but basically, it’s an artist who shares their art in the classroom, often in an academic framework (but not always).  What I love the best about this definition is that is gives equal weight to artist and teacher.  As musicians, most of us naturally make our living as both artist and teacher, but often one or the other feels like it’s getting short-changed, either by us or by those around us.  As in, “I’m an oboist who also teaches lessons,” or “I’m a music teacher who also plays in a chamber group.”  As teaching artists, we maintain a vibrant arts practice, and our teaching practice is part of who we are as artists.  I am so excited to be a part of this wonderful group of artists and teachers, who range from classically trained dancers to comic book artists to mosaic mural artists to writers to actors.  With so much art in one place, something extraordinary is almost guaranteed to happen!

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