RONISHA DUBOSE, M '14
"I have always been a really busy lady. A mother of three small children, ages 4 to 7 years old, with two choirs, a full-time general music job, 13 private students, a husband, a home, parents to love and a fitness routine to maintain...I thought there was no way in heaven or on earth that I would ever find time to pursue a Master's degree! Yet, the desire was unquenchable and the program at VanderCook sounded so reasonable that I had to go for it. The application process was reasonable and the staff was really helpful in making sure that I and they had everything needed. I soon found out that the staff at VanderCook is of the friendliest and most helpful bunch of people in higher education! Start to finish, from the application process to the last day of summer school, I have not a single glimmer of a complaint about this dedicated, hard-working, patient, giving, friendly staff. Truly!
I had already taken three weekend MECA classes at VanderCook, so I had an idea of the level of quality the school offered in regards to instructors and course objectives. However, what I received on my very first day of classes surpassed my already high expectations. My Intro to Graduate Studies class was really an intro to VanderCook class, and it took me by such surprise. I walked into a lecture hall setting, there was this delicate older woman who was worried that her voice will not carry to the back of the room, and she began to lecture from somewhat of a PowerPoint presentation. My first thoughts were, "Oh boy, I hope I can stay awake!" However, within the first ten minutes of her lecture she caused me to self-examine, question the profession and its practices, think about my future as an educator, wonder how I will contribute to the scholarly community and to our profession, question mine and others philosophies, examine what is meant by the word "truth," and so much more! She stimulated so many questions in my mind that I wanted to beg for mercy! Then she turned it around by saying that this sort of stimulation and finding the answers to these questions is what makes one a Master. Whoa!
I was totally blown away within the first ten minutes of my first Summer residency at VanderCook College of Music... and the feeling did NOT diminish, not one bit, not one ounce! Every class, every private lesson, every rehearsal, and every instructor stirred my hunger for knowledge while feeding my desire for achieving excellence as a Music Educator.
Honestly, the workload kicked my butt! Yet, it was totally my fault. I'm sure I could have taken easier roads, skimmed through readings and still met the requirements of my classes. However, there was something so powerful and so drawing about being at VanderCook. I felt so motivated to give more than just 100%. I felt like I wasn't working just for my sake, but I was working for my colleagues, my students, our profession, and the future of Music Education. These feelings drove me to reach beyond the requirements, to practice a little more, to research the research, to question the authorities, to dig, dig, dig and find the answers.
The instructors were all so easy going, like the delicate lady in the Intro to Graduate Studies class, but they set off fires and lightbulbs with the simplest words and thoughts. The knowledge they possessed was unreal! They opened my eyes to things that I never really gave much thought to, but now I feel like I cannot go on teaching without using this knowledge. We laughed, we learned, and when it was all over for the day I was left feeling so full that I could have exploded. Every class, every private lesson, every rehearsal, every instructor, everyday for six weeks!
My colleagues and I motivated each other and worked to push each other. We developed trust in each other in that we knew that each person was there for the same reason, to get an understanding and move to the next higher level. We questioned each other, checked each other, collaborated, and worked as a unit. We were teachers and we were students. We gave each other permission to develop. We laughed, we learned, and when it was over for the day we said, "Have a good evening, get some rest, and see you in the morning," knowing that each other was ending the day a bit wiser than they had began. We celebrated each other and watched each other grow.
This summer has, no doubt, been the most influential summer of my professional career. I am so excited to put what I have learned into practice. I'm stronger, wiser, and getting ever so closer to that mark of excellence. I can't WAIT until next summer at VanderCook!"