Celebrating You – my heart-felt words for 2 students

{I gave this speech during the 2010 commencement at our school as we recognized graduating students}

I have had the privilege of teaching this graduating class for many years. I am proud of who they have become today. So congratulations, 8th graders!

Before they graduate, however, I would like to recognize two students who have demonstrated their excellence & passion for music.

The first student is like a ninja in training. He takes lessons and learns from masters (his piano teacher, his Dad, & me) & and learns well. He practices a lot – but one would never know since he does it discretely. When he practices piano or guitar, he ends up practicing a piece until he gets it right. As he builds his skills during the practice, he would check in with the”masters” to get their approval or more of their insight.
He truly loves music.
To this student, I would like to say this: I hope you continue making music and share your love for it with a greater audience.
Music is something you love, something you enjoy, something that is part of who you are. Connect with others by sharing your music. Share it while it’s in infancy, adolescence, and maturity. You will only learn more. Thank you for sharing this part of you with me and your class. I am proud of you for singing in the concert choir for 2 years, playing the guitar in chapels and in concerts and playing Bach on the piano. I will remember you by your rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody which you learned well for your final project! You are an exceptional young man. Congratulations, _____! Here’s to a great journey!

* * * *

If I was a fortune teller, I would have failed in my business because I would have missed predicting this student’s growth.
I don’t know what started his interest in music. Was it DDR? Maybe Guitar Hero?
What ever it was, once this young man started playing the guitar, he changed.
Whatever music he could get his hands on, he persevered and practiced. He struggled with note reading and getting the rhythm correctly, but he endured. Whatever chapel or concerts he needed to prepare for, he committed fully. His learning style had also changed. Although he was once known as a “loud and wild” child in the classroom, he has now become a quiet thinker.
This quiet thinker reflects his world poignantly. Whether it is a blog post reflecting on music affecting our world or writing a poem for song lyrics, he communicates expressively.
While playing his guitar, he made a different world.
Owen, I am proud of the way you have become an ardent learner. I was so happy and shocked that you signed up for Concert choir this year. This might not have meant anything to you, but when I was home due to the accident and Skyped into your class, your guitar playing brought much healing. Yes, there is power and joy in music.

You wrote on your yearbook page, “The real trouble with reality is that there’s no background music.”
____, go from here and make the background music for us.
Congratulations!

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One thought on “Celebrating You – my heart-felt words for 2 students

  1. This post is imbued by your passion for teaching. I kind of got choked up reading it, and I’m not the cry-at-movies type. Thanks for sharing, and thanks for spreading the word of music.

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