The Southerner

Teachers moonlight as musicians outside the classroom

Kinsley Wilcox-McBride, Staff Writer

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To be a teacher is a very time consuming profession. Due to this, it’s easy to assume that there is not much that teachers do outside of things relating to their jobs. However, according to most teachers, this is simply not true. “Everyone, teachers included, need to have a healthy balance of life and work,” said english and humanities teacher Darin Doty.

Doty said that in his opinion, “it’s probably pretty unhealthy if you let one thing overtake another in a way that affects your happiness or your ability to do your job or to be present with your family.”

For a group of South teachers, this balance is between their teaching careers, and a passion for music. For Doty, his passion for music is channeled into his second job three he does times a week in which he performs with Jazz trios, funk bands, and rock bands. Doty also does consultations with bands at churches.

“I started playing guitar when I was really young-like seven-and just really liked it. When I graduated from high school I decided I was going to be a biology major, I did that for one year, then I hated calculus so I changed my major to jazz.” Doty then studied jazz for the following three years before switching his major to education and english literature in the year before graduating.

Although it seems like a drastic change to go from a musician to a high school teacher, Doty did not feel that way. “Transitioning from a music major to an english major was fairly easy for me because I felt like I wasn’t doing that much different of work; it still involves creativity, words, and ideas,” Doty said.

“[Performing] helps with confidence, delivery, and being comfortable making mistakes in front of people…All the range of emotional possibilities while performing really helped me be ready for a room full of teenagers. Although not quite in the same way- there’s nothing quite the same as that,” Doty said.

Doty’s experience of having music as his second job is not the same as all teacher musicians. In fact, in the case of humanities teacher Erin Blum, music as a job is something he is very against. “Music is my hobby. It’s something that I do for fun and I don’t ever want to do it for work,” he said.

Blum is a fiddlist, guitarist and banjo player. “I started playing guitar when I was 16 because I just wanted to rock and roll. Then 12 or 13 years later, I started playing banjo. Then five years after that, I started playing the fiddle,” Blum said. While Blum has never considered music a career, he does take part in public performances with bands, most of which are folksy, “old time” styled.

Blum is never disappointed that teaching has taken on a stronger role in his life than music.“I just love teaching. I believe teaching is so important and essential in the world. Anything I can do to help students think more critically and question society and the traditional education system, I would love to do,” Blum said.

While Blum does not want music to take form as a job in his life, he does feel like his experience as a musician has made some influence on who he is as a teacher. “[Being a musician] helps me think about the sounds of words more. I teach a lot of english language learners and I think it could help affect the way I’m using sounds in my classroom,” Blum explained.

Teacher Doug Bergland did start out his adult life with music as a career, and didn’t go to school to get a teaching license until 30. “Music was my job for many years, then it was my part time job, now it’s just my fun,” Bergland said.

After giving up a basketball scholarship as a teenager to pursue the band he had been in, Bergland spent his twenties on the road as a performer.

Today, Bergland still plays his drums often, and plays in a band a couple times a year. He says that he does hope to branch out into more active groups again. “I’ve always liked learning and I like the topics I teach, so I enjoy being a teacher, but I can’t ‘express’ myself when I am teaching; I’ve got to be fairly under control,” Bergland said.

Bergland too feels that his prior job has helped him with his teaching, in the sense that he has seen life from different perspectives. “We draw from all kinds of experiences. Mine just happen to be as a drummer in a band.”

Bergland also likes to use his passion for music to connect with students. “If I catch a drummer I will pull them aside and give them music with a great drummer and we will talk about it. Or, if there is somebody who I know is in a band we will talk about that,’’ he said.

However, Bergland also hopes that knowing he is a musician does not give students have different view of him. “I’m not trying to pretend to be cool, I am just a guy who loves music and loves to play it” he said.

As a musician, Blum has specific wishes for the school system that branch from that part of his life. “I want music to be more apart of being in all classes. Especially in humanities, I feel like music is missed a lot,” Blum expressed.

 

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