I owe an apology to more people than I can imagine. My presentation on February 12, 2021 at TMEA on identifying beginning bassoon candidates was rooted in guidelines that exclude a diverse range of students. I now recognize the harm I have inflicted; I was wrong and I apologize.
Music is inclusive. Music is a place where people find safety, where people find their passions, where people find their heart and their community. I urge anyone defending my teachings to reconsider this practice and reflect on who our programs are designed to serve. How many students have been prevented from experiencing the bassoon—or any other instrument—in a misguided drive to build band programs?
As a music educator, I recommit to being proactive and researching best practices in diversity, equity, and inclusion to not only apply in my own teaching practice, but to share in the public forums I inhabit. I also vow to make space for diverse perspectives and use whatever platforms I have to lift up voices historically left out the conversations around music pedagogy. I have recognized the harms of white supremacy and classism and have historically thought of myself as an ally in the effort to dismantle these systems. The resounding and justified response to my presentation was a huge wake-up call that I have been an agent in perpetuating these harmful systems and have more reflection and work to do. I am humbled, but grateful for the feedback and opportunity to learn from my mistake. Most importantly, I vow to listen more and do better.
I humbly welcome additional feedback from anyone I hurt who is willing to share. I am not sure how this might progress, but at the very least, I would be grateful for the opportunity to apologize to you personally. Please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to connecting with you.
To TMEA: I strongly encourage you to use this opportunity to lead the way in directly challenging racial and socioeconomic exclusion which continue to persist in music education. Speaking out clearly and unequivocally against the very actions I promoted has the power to initiate critical conversations in our field and is the first step to beginning the healing process.
My hope is the dialogue and action that comes from this doesn’t seek to move on without effecting change—America has done this too often and too long—but works to actively reverse the harm and prevent future injury.
Once again, I am deeply sorry.
To anyone wanting to dive deeper into why the guidelines are problematic, please visit https://teachingbassoon.com/tmea-statement/