Saturday, September 27, 2014

An open letter to parents of fine arts students

Dear parents of fine arts students,

Bravo! Your child has decided to invest his or her time in a meaningful and worthwhile pursuit. Fine arts are wonderful, and I know from personal experience that the time invested in artistic pursuits is time well spent. But you probably already know that. That's probably why your child is involved.
My intent in writing to you is not to praise the arts. The beauty of creative endeavors should be a self-evident truth by now. Rather, I'm speaking as the wife of a director. It's fall and school is back in full swing, and that means my husband is MIA a lot of the time. This is the first Saturday of many this year that he will spend the entire day helping your children hone their musical abilities. He's really good at what he does, and he loves his chosen career. But those Saturdays add up, as do the late hours most evenings spent rehearsing and performing.
I'm not writing to complain, fellow parents. I'm writing to ask that when you speak with your children's teachers and directors, you do so with me in mind. You see, my husband became a dad this summer (not so coincidentally at the same time that I became a mom), so those long hours are a little bit harder this fall. 
And sometimes when you fight for your kid or ask for special help for the fine arts student who lives at your house, you keep him from coming home to us. Please don't feel like you can't ask for help. As I said, he loves his job and he wants to do everything he can to help your kids succeed. But maybe you can keep your requests within reason and  remember as you choose the words and tone of voice in which you speak to him that he's a dad too. And the irregular hours he works are hard on his family. I like to think I was appreciative of teachers before (especially the awesome ones who put in extra hours blessing their students with "extracurricular" time), but I have a whole new admiration for them now that I'm the one waiting (and waiting) at home for my favorite teacher to come back to us.
My husband leaves before we wake up in the morning, and usually only has a couple of precious hours with our baby girl in the evening. And those are not her happiest hours, my friends. So, all this to say, fellow parents, maybe you could offer some understanding and perhaps a word of gratitude to the next teacher you speak with and remember that he or she is dedicating time to enrich your kid that is time away from his or her kids.
I know I would appreciate hearing that someone acknowledged how hard my favorite fine arts teacher works. And it might even make it a little easier to give up all those Saturdays and evenings together this fall.
Wife of an Orchestra Director

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