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Ira Shankman of New York University on Why Playing Music Makes You a Better Teacher and Vice Versa

Ira Shankman is a faculty member and Coordinator of Choral Groups at New York University’s Steinhart School.

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Ira Shankman, Coordinator of Student Teaching Placement for the Music Education Department at New York University, discusses the synergies that can be achieved when music teachers continue to work as performing musicians.

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Ira Shankman: From Teaching Students to Teachers (4min)
I know that for me the passion is still there. The passion to teach, the passion to bring people from a point where they have been to a much higher point that they never could have achieved without our relationships. If we could get that passion into the students now, to let them go out, because it’s time to pass the baton to other people, and we can instill in them the love of the discipline that we have and the joy that the discipline has brought us throughout these years, and then let them go out and reach whole new populations of kids, then we’re doing our job. I think that, you know, the experiences that I’ve had as an educator, in good times and in bad times, can inform kids and let them know that no matter what happens, you never give up. If you believe in something, you promote it and you push it because you’re going to affect people. You’re going to affect people in a very profound way. It’s that reason I became an educator, it’s that reason I continue to be an educator and it’s that reason that I’m hoping the people we come in contact with here will go out and do the same thing that we’ve been doing for this year. People who become musicians become musicians because there’s this need to perform and create and have that joy of being able to do something. You’re right, I can’t tell you how many years I would go into school, I would finish school at 3:30, I would run to my piano teaching job for about three hours or four hours and then I’d go out and do a gig at night until two in the morning and then come back at seven and start teaching again. The other math teachers, who may not be musicians, may not have that. But you may be surprised, they may be the musicians doing the gigs while they’re still teaching math. There was the need and the joy that it gave us, you know you talk about applause applause. Performance was always a part of my life. Whether it was playing in a trio, whether it was conducting a choir, whether it was leading the chorus in school, it’s still performance. We as musician educators were really lucky because we had the best of both worlds. We were able to perform our craft with our students, and give them the skills to help them perform their craft and still get the joy of personal performance, when it was outside of school. There came a time, certainly when I went into administration where I had to cut back because the administrative aspect of it, although I have to share that, whether it was assistant principal or principal, I always taught. As a principal I still taught two classes because I felt it was very important never to lose contact with kids, and still be in the classroom with kids. I couldn’t go out and do the club anymore so I had to cut back on that. I think that we are very lucky because we have the best of both worlds. It’s something that all music teachers are able to do, educate and still perform.

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Ira Shankman.Teaching Students.doc

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