These three things are woven throughout each and everything that I do, each and everything that I create, and keep me grounded in this work. Although I’ve drawn inspiration from different mentors and education and experiences in my career, the process and the experiences that I’ve had to come to these three pillars are what make them uniquely Anne, and uniquely Anacrusic

Anne Mileski

Today I’m sharing a few things that I’ve simply been thinking about lately. I’ve been feeling super inspired to share with you guys. It’s been a while and there’s some really exciting changes that are going to streamline all things and Anacrusic. 

I don’t usually create a podcast or a blog, or a anything with less than 48 hours before I’m sent to share it with everyone. But today, I just felt super inspired. This morning I got up, did a little bit of reading before my girls were awake, and I thought, this is really on my heart to share. So today I’m sharing my mission and the three pillars of Anacrusic.

Now, truth be told, if you’ve listened to The Anacrusic Podcast before, or you’re a member of my program The Sequencing Solution, you probably (or definitely) know what these three pillars are. But it’s worth it to revisit them because they are central to each and everything that I do with all things and Anacrusic.  It’s especially important to do this now, because this next month (March 2020), Anacrusic is getting a bit of a rebranding. The website is getting a little bit of a different look and the podcast is getting a different look, and a different sound, and a little bit of a different format. 

I’ve already shared about how, after today’s episode, I’m going to have actionable things for you to do inside of your classroom to help you streamline all the things that you do and make sure that they’re really, really intentional. And follow that first pillar of purposeful, sequential and joyful.

…how’d you like that transition?

Pillar #1 – Purposeful, Sequential, Joyful

This seed for this whole idea comes, believe it or not, from my Kodály training. I’ve said it once, I’ve said it before, I’ve said it a million times. And I’ll continue say it: I really do not like to put myself in a box. I have had lots of different experiences, and different educational experiences, and different mentors with different backgrounds that have really helped form me as an educator and as a teacher educator. But when I think about my Kodály training, that is where I came to think about these words.

The idea of purposeful is that everything inside of my classroom and everything that I share with the world has an intention behind it. I wouldn’t go put something out into the universe, whether it’s a resource, an Instagram post, a Facebook post, or any of those things unless it was serving a purpose. And, honestly? There are times that I go a little bit quiet on social, there’s times that I go two years without creating a new resource, or I’m revising The Sequencing Solution for the fourth time. And the reason I’m doing that is because everything I do has a specific intention and I want to make sure that I’m giving my best all of the time.

This all came to me when I was listening to one of my great mentors, Kathy Kuddes, teaching in one of my Kodály levels. She was explaining about how to structure your lessons and things that you need to consider… and my brain just clicked—as in obviously, everything has to have a purpose. It has to be purposeful. And that got cemented into my brain over and over and over again. Obviously, the sequential piece is another big piece, because any good teaching is going to build from the known to the unknown, in a spiral curriculum idea. The joyful piece is this whole idea that I’m only going to do something in my classroom that inspires children and inspires me. Joyful is something that makes everybody feel alive. I only see my kids twice a week for 30 minutes or some permutation that is very close to that, and so I don’t have time to do something just because. I don’t have time to do something that isn’t going to inspire my kids, and inspire this joyful community that we can have. So this whole purposeful, sequential, joyful thing is not just a cute tagline that I put at the end of stuff. It really, truly is my mission statement. And it is the litmus test by which everything that I do has to pass. 

Pillar #2 – The Teacher-Musician

The more that I started thinking about this term, the more I began to realize that maybe I haven’t been super clear on what it means when I refer to music teachers as teacher-musicians. My own story and journey to becoming a music teacher informed this term. The whole reason I became a music teacher was not because I wanted to teach music to kids my whole life. I was a performance major, I took professional auditions, and I was bound and determined to do orchestral trumpet playing. That’s what I went to undergrad and graduate school for initially. And then I realized that the way that I can best feel most musical and best bring music to the world is by bringing music to children. 

While there are lots of different types of musicians in our world, such as orchestral musicians, or jazz musicians, or any other identifier. I am a teacher musician. And I think that is an important way to phrase it. Because yes, I’m a music teacher, and I teach music but I’m also a teacher musician, because that musician piece is a bigger identifier for me, again, not wanting to put anybody in a box, but that’s a big identifier for me, and a big character characteristic rather of who I am. And it goes hand in hand with teaching.

The idea is that all of us went to a school of music, we became incredibly proficient on our instruments, and had to do a lot of musical training specifically, before we became music teachers. And the reason why I became a music teacher is because of the music first, and what I know that music can do for people, especially kids. How it can enrich everybody’s life, and how it’s a really important language, a really important piece of culture. And so that is why I’m a teacher musician.

Another big part of this is, as a teacher musician, as someone who is a musician first in a lot of ways, I need to find what is going to make me feel most musical in my classroom. It is so important for me to find things that I’m excited about. It’s so important for me to find things that make me feel creative. It’s so important for me to find things that I’m excited about teaching that I get goosebumps about arranging or setting the texts or all of these kinds of things, so that I can bring that to my kids. ecause if I’m just plucking a song out of a collection or out of a textbook, because it’s good for “blank”, that is not serving me as the teacher musician that I am. And the kids see that a hundred million percent, and they get more out of it. You get more out of it. Everybody is way more fulfilled when we find ways to make ourselves feel most musical, so that we can help our children be most musical as well. And that leads us into the third pillar.

Pillar #3 – Active Music Making

If I think back to my experience in elementary music, my teachers did the best that they could with what they had. And we always do the best that we can with what we have at the time, in whatever situation. When I was in elementary school, we had music class in the cafeteria, the custodian was slamming tables while we were trying to sing and there just wasn’t a whole lot that we were doing besides sitting and singing. And I think it’s really essential, especially now that we have so many great resources, and so many great pedagogical approaches (which we’ve talked about tons on this podcast), that we really find ways to engage with active music making. And by that I mean finding different modes of music making to help our students feel like their most musical selves. 

When I’m talking bout pedagogical approaches, I’m referring to Kodály-inspired teaching, Orff Schulwerk, things like Dalcroze Eurhythmics, Music Learning Theory, and all the others out there. These lend a hand in helping us to differentiate with different modes of active music making so our students can be their most musical selves. In the interest of full disclosure, active music making is not my term. It’s in many different texts, there is the Alliance for Active Music Making, so the phrase is not an Anne original. I love this phrase because it helps to show that all different approaches, and all different modes of music making, really work together beautifully. It’s all about creating intentional experiences for students in our music classrooms that allow themselves to be their most creative, musical selves. I think that’s really, really, really important. 

I felt really called to share all of this with you today because it seems like there are lots of new people popping up on social media, in groups, and elsewhere who are creating resources and inspiration for music teachers. Aren’t we so lucky to have this community? It’s amazing! 

I’ve always wanted to share and help teachers. It started with collaborating in my district, to going on to do doctoral work, then to share in person at trainings and workshops. But when it came to who really needed something to make their classrooms and teaching come alive, I knew there were teachers out there who couldn’t necessarily get there, wherever that was. Sometimes geography and finances makes it really, really difficult to get to trainings. Anacrusic is my way of sharing and a place where everybody has access and I love that so much, that is so important to me.

So since I know there’s so many wonderful places to draw inspiration from, and the numbers continue to grow (again lucky us!) I just wanted to take today to go a little bit deeper, to let you know why I do what I do. These three things are woven throughout each and everything that I do, each and everything that I create, and keep me grounded in this work. Although I’ve drawn inspiration from different mentors and education and experiences in my career, the process and the experiences that I’ve had to come to these three pillars are what make them uniquely Anne, and uniquely Anacrusic.

Links mentioned in today’s podcast:

TAP 002: Anne’s Story

TAP 003: Three Little Words

TAP 007: What is Active Music Making?

TAP 016: Why I Teach

TAP 031: Stories That Have Shaped Me

TAP 038: The Real Reason You Became a Music Teacher


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