Attend the Ancient Greek Music seminar in Riva del Garda, Italy, research the origins of opera in Florence, and the later development of opera and origins of antiphonal polyphony in Venice, to facilitate teacher collaboration across disciplines and increase student engagement through the use of authentic materials and deeper context.
My own knowledge and capabilities have grown tremendously as a result of my fellowship. I am so much more versed in the philosophy and theory behind music in ancient Greece, and so much more able to connect all the historical dots between antiquity and the present. History is of course a continuum, but too often there are gaps in the line of our knowledge. My fellowship allowed me to fill in a lot of gaps!
When I am conducting lessons that reference antiquity, I will be much more secure in my knowledge. In the past I had to make some educated guesses about certain things, but now I can give instruction with considerable more certainty and authority. More importantly, I will be able to answer many more questions now with confidence--there will be much less, "I honestly don't know!"
One night in Venice I went to the church of San Giorgio. I had heard that the monks there sing vespers every night, and it was my hope to be allowed to listen to Gregorian Chant sung by those who truly understand it and do it the way it is supposed to be done. Imagine my surprise when the abbot handed me a missal and invited me up with them! It seriously taxed my language and music skills, but I participated fully. It was a profound and moving experience.
I have a much better understanding of the process of academic research and the way our collective knowledge is moved forward. I will be able to convey that process to my students, to help make them aware of how it is that our collective human knowledge is gathered, understood, and synthesized for the general public. I also hope to show my students all the connections there are between the ancient world and our own--how what happened then directly influences what happens now.
One belief of mine that was only strengthened by my fellowship is the sense that all of the disciplines we teach in a high school are related, mere facets of the same stone. It is my intention to discuss with representatives from each department in my school the ways that what they do in their room can be informed and enhanced by what we do in the music department. What I learned on my fellowship has given me the tools to begin those conversations.
Excitement and enthusiasm are contagious. It is my sincere hope to infect my students with my own enthusiasm for this type of learning. The celebration will come when I see that I have been successful in that endeavor!
I think the greatest challenge we face in education today is the idea that because of technology and the internet specific content knowledge--especially in the humanities--is less important than it once was. Why bother knowing something when you can look it up? I believe that attitude is wrong, and hope to be able to demonstrate so by the accomplishments of my students. In that way, we can have an impact that goes beyond our own classroom.
My fellowship has given me a renewed sense of appreciation for the work that is done in academia, and the rigorous and serious approach that academics take with their work. It has also made me realize the importance of that serious rigor, as the barest and slightest of fragments is plumbed for whatever scraps of information it can give us, and those scraps painstakingly built into the larger body of knowledge we all benefit from.