When I was in college, I decided to major in "something useful." So I decided I would major in mathematics and be a math teacher. I hated the homework in math and loved singing in the university chorus. I soon fell far behind in math and my advisor suggested that choose another major.
In my sophomore year, I took some voice lessons because I loved to sing. I took a class on "Choral Music over the Centuries" from my favorite professor. In my junior year, I decided to major in music because, even though I knew it would not be useful, I thought, "When else in my life am I going to be able to do something that I love?" I planned on making a living as a teacher, so I figured it didn't make that much difference what I majored in. In my senior year, I taught guitar lessons after school and made an excellent hourly wage.
I graduated and started working in an outdoor education school leading the campfire singing in the evenings. After three years, the grant funding was cut for that program, so I taught math and band in a middle school. Though I was good at it, I hated teaching math. It was so regulated. Teachers had to follow a tight schedule without any time to help the kids understand the material. The math was continually tested. There was no fun in the classroom. After two years, I quit because I was very depressed. I hated myself as a middle school math teacher. I was 29.
I went back to school to get my degree in counseling as a therapist. My Mom suggested that I do a few school assembly programs with the songs I used to teach at camp. I needed some money to pay for graduate school. The programs took off. I made $100 bucks a program going to schools and singing about nature and science. People started calling me to teach an after school children's chorus. I was asked to develop curriculum for integrating the arts with social studies. The parents of my chorus children kept asking where I got all the great songs I was teaching them. I made a recording of the songs. I sold tapes of nature science songs. I started going to teacher conferences and selling the tapes. At one conference, I sold 100 tapes in 20 minutes. (made $1000.00 that day). I started traveling around the country teaching teachers how in integrate music into their classroom curriculum.
The Mom of one of my children in chorus worked in an inner city school. The teachers needed release time and wanted the kids to have some music. I did a proposal to teach an entire grade level, 150 kids at a time, every grade level in the school. So I found myself teaching massive music and loving every minute.
A friend of mine, professor of early childhood education suggested to her editor that I do a book on integrating music into other subject areas for teachers. I wrote the textbook and they published it. That got me a job with Fresno Pacific University in their Center for Professional Development teaching teachers how to integrate music into other subject areas.
I did finally get licensed as a therapist and started my private practice. Now I mostly see teachers and children and their families. I totally loved every minute of teaching my students to sing. So, would I rather be rich and miserable or teaching music and happy? Marsha Sinetar was right, I did what I loved and enough money (not a fortune) did follow.
I have worked as a teacher educator and music specialist for many years. A few years ago, when there was funding, I taught 900 children a week at an inner city school in San Pablo CA. I taught music to entire grade levels in groups of 120-150 children at a time. We did this so that teachers would have time to collaborate at the grade level to share ideas and teaching techniques. We needed to have the children engaged in an activity for the entire grade level, so I did music with them. I loved the excitement and challenge of teaching so many children at one time. All the other teachers thought I was nuts, but to me it was fun! Fortunately, I had already been teaching for about 20 years when we started the program. Sadly, it died when we went through the terrible years (2007-2011) of continual funding cuts. I would love to pass on my techniques and teaching skills to incoming educators. I did write a book for teachers on how to integrate music into the regular classroom for Cengage Learning (Weaving Music into Young Minds). However, it is hard to communicate how I teach young children in book format. I wish I could do some videos of my teaching techniques before I get too old. Do you have any connections with any video journalists who might be interested in working with me? Currently I live in rural Northern California, (where I could afford to retire) and I am not too far from the SF Bay Area. I am pretty sure we could find a school, particularly with low income students, that might be willing to have me come and work with their students. Do you have any ideas or connections that might help pass this valuable skill of how to manage large groups of children on to the next generation of teachers? Please let me know that you have read this email by sending me just a quick reply, like: Got it. I know it might take some time for you to consider who you might know on the West Coast.
Do what you love, and some money will follow