Friday, January 26, 2007

I have spent a great deal of time over the last year (well, since I left Madison) trying to decide if I ought to go back to school to get certified to do something that would get me a decent job. I have teetered between finishing my DMA, getting certified to teach public school (in music or as a general classroom teacher), or getting a Master's in Social Work, so I could become a counselor. I suppose I have thought about more options than that, but those are the main ones that keep coming up in my head. One of the main differences between these kinds of work are in how they lead to working one-on-one with individuals or to working with a group of individuals -- and the question, which do I do better? Also, a main difference between teaching and counseling is that teaching school is about working towards outer goals of learning specific materials, whereas counseling is about personal growth, or learning about oneself. I love the ways in which I have been able to be a counselor to my private voice students -- to nurture their own personal growth through their study of singing. I feel that as a teacher it is always possible to nurture a student's personal growth in the one-on-one time you spend with them, even if you are primarily teaching them in a class. But, there is a limit to that relationship and there have been at least a few students I have wished I could help further than I was able to as a music teacher. On the other hand, as a counselor, there would be limits in my interactions with my clients. There would be less time or purpose for asking questions that interest me, as I would need to focus firmly on a therapeutic process, on goals to move the client through the psychological processes that might lead to better mental health. A Master's in Social Work is a very versatile degree. A person with a MSW can work as an alcohol and drug counselor, a counselor to a person dying of cancer or AIDS (or to their family), a counselor in a homeless shelter, or to folks trying to move from homelessness back into the working world. There are many options other than working as a traditional social worker or private therapist. Last summer it was suggested to me that I could teach voice lessons to people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a type of therapy. This came up after talking to my therapist about how one of the things I have always enjoyed about teaching private voice lessons has been the feeling that it was a kind of therapy for my students. I often felt conflicted about how to assess a student's skills or judge their artistic potential when I felt like the process of working on their singing and strengthening their connection to the music were serving a much deeper purpose for them than could be judged by traditional standards. It seemed to me that the process of opening up their voices was a way of opening up their lives to change and to growth. So, there has always been somewhat of a dilemma for me in terms of what my role is as a teacher, a counselor, and an artist. And perhaps this is why things have worked out for me as they have. Perhaps I need a new title... There is so much patience required in finding the right career path. It would be such a shame to think that my work as a performing classical singer will not be of any use to my future career. Returning to school will require time and money that I don't have at the present moment. The thing that probably makes the most sense for me now is to get a full-time job as a secretary somewhere that pays benefits (especially since it's been a year and a half since I've seen a doctor and (!!) five years since I've seen a dentist). Maybe after saving up some money I could start slowly completing the coursework necessary to move on to another line of work...

3 comments:

Suze said...

so many things to ponder. have you thought about music therapy? I have a friend who has a degree in music therapy and has worked as a music therapist; i think mostly with kids with disabilities, but there are all kinds of applications. of course, it takes going to school for a couple years...
you're such an empathetic person; i totally see you in a counselor-type position. i hope you find a way to work it out.

pamigelsrud said...

yes. i have thought about music therapy and have looked into it a little bit. i'm glad to hear that you think i'm empathic. it's not always easy to know what my own strengths are. i guess we'll see how things play out... the future is ours to see, as they say...

pamigelsrud said...

oops - sorry, what I meant to write was, "the future's NOT ours to see"! big difference! (que sara, sara)