“Everything she’s saying could be applied
to teaching music!” That was my
thought this summer when I read Brené
Brown’s insightful and inspiring book
Daring Greatly: How the Courage to
Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We
Live, Love, Parent, and Lead. Through
her study of connections, Dr. Brown has
learned that “vulnerability is the core,
the heart, the center, of human experiences.”
Connections are created when
we are vulnerable when we let our
guard down or take off our armor. Dr.
Brown knows about connection: Her
talk at TEDxHouston, “The Power of
Vulnerability,” has been viewed online
more than 16 million times and been
translated into 48 languages.

A theme in Brown’s book that hit me
hard with its profundity is that “We
are psychologically, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually hardwired for
connection, love, and belonging. Connection, along with love and belonging
(two expressions of connection), is why
we are here, and it is what gives purpose
and meaning to our lives.” This explains
why students are drawn to music classes
and why music teachers can be so successful in making a positive difference
in students’ lives.

One of the most important qualities of
an exceptional music teacher, other than
musicianship, is the ability to make connections. Think about it. We need to be
connected to the art form of music—not
sort of connected but really connected.
We have to believe in and be passionately
connected to the literature that we
program with our students. Picking up
on Brown’s insights, we can best share
our connection to the music when we
are truly vulnerable—when we overcome
our fears and inhibitions and truly
express through our gestures, facial expressions, and comments how the music
makes us feel. Ultimately, as musical
artists, we are making emotional,
spiritual, and mental connections with
the audience through our musical performance. The more we are connected
to the music and our students, and the
more our students are connected to the
music, one another, and us, the more vibrant and electric our performances will

We need to connect to our students on a
personal level built on a foundation of
mutual trust and respect. Our students
want to feel connected to us. The more
vulnerable we are, the more we can
connect to others. Great music teachers
create an environment where students
feel safe to be vulnerable, creative, and
truly expressive. In this kind of setting,
students are connected to one another,
to the music, and to the teacher. Performance, leadership, communication,
passion, expression, relationships—everything boils down to connecting!

We have to nurture and foster all connections—band parents, community
organizations such as the Rotary Club,
state music educators associations, ASBDA, CBDNA, etc. We can go out of
our way this fall to make and strengthen
connections with our administration, office
assistants, faculty, staff, custodians,
and coaches. Don’t wait to connect with
administrators until there is a problem.
Connect early about positive things so
that they will be more likely to collaborate
to find a solution when an issue

Why do students love music class? Because it fulfills their greatest needs—
connection, love, and belonging. As we
return to our campuses this month, let’s
try to be a little more vulnerable and
connect at a new level.