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Music in Schools Initiative

Fostering confidence: music-making and personal development

Richard Adger

Richard Adger. Photo by Matt Fried.

If you didn’t grow up in a music program, you might be surprised to learn that as a music educator, teaching my students how to play the clarinet is not the most important part of my job. In fact, if scales and etudes are the only things my students learn from me, then I have absolutely failed them. As a teaching artist, my aim is to encourage and inspire the creative minds of my students within and outside the arena of music-making. The benefits of music education are not always tangible. For my student Karla Campos, music is important to her because it helps her express her feelings and is something she uses in her everyday life. 

This is the third summer that Karla has been a part of my clarinet studio at the Morse Summer Music Academy—this year, MorseOnline. YSM's Music in School's Initiative, of which the Morse Summer Music Academy is a part, is made possible by an endowment from the Yale Class of 1957Three years is a long time to return to any summer camp, and when I asked Karla what kept her involved all of these years, she told me that “the teachers are always great and have never made me feel like I could not be successful.” 

One of the many joys of being a teaching artist is that when students come back year after year, I get to chart their growth not only as musicians but also as people. 

“You have taught me to go out of my comfort zone,” Karla said, “specifically in the summer of 2018. It was very difficult to play a part alone, but I had learned to be confident and to read the cues of the other person.” 

Of course I am thrilled that Karla, talking about a performance she gave as part of a duet, was able to perform independently, but as a music mentor I am even more proud that she talks about a bolstered level of confidence. 

Richard Adger and Karla Campos

Richard Adger and Karla Campos during Morse Summer Music Academy 2018.

Although this edition of the Morse Summer Music Academy is happening virtually, as MorseOnline, our objectives are still the same: to build community and to nurture the minds of our students. How are we doing so far? Karla offers a review:

“I like MorseOnline,” she said. “It doesn’t start too early, and even though we are at home I feel like I still improve and have a motivation to pick up my instrument every day.” 

And that has always been our goal. 

Clarinetist Richard Adger ’19MM ’20MMA will be the 2020–2021 Morse Postgraduate Fellow in the Yale School of Music’s Music in Schools Initiative starting in September.

MorseOnline is a program of YSM's Music in Schools Initiative, which is made possible by an endowment from the Yale College Class of 1957. Learn more about MorseOnline here and the Music in Schools Initiative here