I am Daysha Lynn Clark, late bloomer and aspiring music educator (not to be confused with piano teacher…). After trying on a couple of perfectly respectable but personally unsatisfying careers (office manager and pharmacy technician) I’m returning to my first love at the tender age of almost-thirty. Teaching music, and specifically working with high school and eventually post-secondary choral music, is the golden ticket to me – I get to make music every day of my life, show others how awesome music is and how to own it for themselves, and someone will actually pay me to do it. It gets no better than that. I’m a Norfolk Christian alumni (1997) and I’ve recently transferred to ODU from TCC.
I have an awesome husband of almost two years without whom I would have dropped out of college a long time ago. He makes a lot of sacrifices and spends a lot of energy to make it possible for me to pursue a dream . Dave has whole-heartedly supported me every step of my journey, and we joke that they should put his name on my degree, too. I have a slightly less awesome cat who really doesn’t give up anything, including my spot in bed if he gets there first.
Music is obviously my top hobby – I play guitar, mandolin, and psaltry, and I’ve played piano by ear for 22 years, and studied classical piano for 3. Besides music, I’m and avid photographer, I love cooking (but no baking!!) and doing watercolor and pen-and-ink. I’m also a big fan of wandering aimlessly through very lovely places, like Duke Gardens in Durham, NC, the West Ghent Bird Sanctuary, or basically anywhere during the Fall.
Music, and singing, and instruments have been therapy, best friend, playground, and identity for me for as long as I can remember. I’m a Kentucky native, so my first real exposure to music was church-potluck bluegrass, which I still play for my own amusement today (where no one can hear me but the cat…); when my father took a music appreciation course in college, he started bringing home Tchaikovsky, Beethoven, and Mozart. In addition to classical, my dad kept us on a steady diet of 60’s and 70’s rock, and my mother played gospel and organ music on vinyl – and I ate up every note. I don’t remember when or where I heard my first big choir, or even how I fell into choral music, but I remember feeling completely entranced by the size and depth of the sound of dozens of human voices in chorus. It always felt like I could swim in the wall of sound the comes from a really awesome choir.
As I struggled with a tough mix of frequent relocations and undiagnosed ADD throughout junior high and high school, involvement in music was an escape, and the only thing that kept me going. It gave me a sense of accomplishment, and a feeling of worth to be a part of something so beautiful as music.
I tossed around the idea of music education when I was younger, but I had myself convinced I wasn’t cut out to teach. While I never lost my love of music, I gave very little thought to turning it into a career. I knew I wanted to go back to school, but I had my sights set on commercial art.
One of my closest friends teaches art in the Norfolk public school system, and invited me to the Norfolk Public Schools Fine Arts Festival to see some of her students’ work. While there, I heard all of our local high school choirs perform, and I felt the awe hit me again. I knew then and there that my dream from ten years earlier was still what I wanted for myself now, and here I am, a married lady with a full time job and no money, learing how to teach kids to appreciate, make, and hopefully love music.
I’m very inspired by Socrates. Although he is regarded by modern scholars to be among the wisest of men, he himself claimed to have no wisdom at all. He simply wanted to sort out the truth, and asked relentless questions in pursuit of it. It was through humility and dialectic – the fair minded but critical give and take of ideas with those who have other views or greater knowledge that he- that put Socrates in the position to be marked down is history as uncommonly wise, but also the father of philosophy and forbear to such thinkers as Plato and Aristotle.
I think that the first step toward knowledge is owning your ignorance. I also think that real knowledge cannot be gained simply by sitting under the sound of smart person’s voice. I feel that dialog should be a bigger part of the classroom – give students a chance to challenge, and ask questions that might not be a part of the curriculum, but might be imperative to how they develop as not just a student, but a skilled, competent thinker. I think students should be answering questions that cannot be answered by hard facts alone, but by using the facts to form their own view of the world, and present it in an intelligent, compelling way.
Music in particular is ripe with conversations, in part because music itself has become so diverse, but music instruction has remained so not. The opporotunity to remove societal walls, to update old ideas, and reverse or even prevent harmful cultural attitudes is far too ripe to split hairs over whether Bach is better than Beyonce.