I had a wonderful experience last week participating as a member of the Musician’s Wellness Team from Michigan State University’s College of Music. We led a five hour workshop on the four topics the National Association of Teachers of Music has made a priority for our nation’s Music Programs: Hearing Conservation, Neuromusculoskeletal Health, Psychological Health, and Vocal Health. We were in Salt Lake City, Utah at the American String Teachers Association meeting.

Teaching always helps me learn through multiple pathways. It is the connection with my students, the curiosity I have for my subject, and the synergy of being in an ensemble of amazing people. For the 15 years I taught for Michigan State University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s world renowned Manual Medicine Series, I enjoyed being part of another impressive team of teachers that inspired me and acted as a catalyst for my professional growth. I have missed that environment and longed for a similar experience.

In every life there are times for going out and times for staying in. After that 15 year rocket like start to my professional career, I realized I was missing multiple opportunities to be with my kids, wife, and extended family. I had three briefcases: one for teaching, one for research, and one for my role as Medical Director of the Clinic where I saw patients and supervised residents. At the turning point I realized…too many briefcases!!! I felt desperate for time and space to rest and play. Something had to change.

I had neglected a whole sphere of my life. I began to study yoga with an inspiring teacher in Montreal, and Quebec became a place of refuge and deep learning as I repeatedly returned to the Ashram, a pilgrim on a spiritual quest. I left the University and went into private practice and gradually learned to slow down and pay attention to progressively deeper and wider spheres of the rich and full life I live.

Now the kids are grown and launched, and we even have a grandson who is 7 months old. I feel ready to go back out and be part of a team again. Last week, when we put 6 people from different and varied backgrounds together to teach about Musician’s Wellness, it was magical. It was Alchemy. I credit our fearless leader, Judy Palac, who has tirelessly campaigned on behalf of this team and this idea for many years…decades, actually. She is the true north of our group. Her vision has crafted a beautiful and talented ensemble.

You can learn more about us: Musicians' Wellness Team

On our refrigerator at home we have written with those cool magnetic letters a reminder of a truth we have learned in 33 years of marriage… “It is in the doing of it.” Mastery of any skill in which we may have a natural talent occurs through the clarifying process of practice. But it is only manifested in the world when we use our gifts in concert with others so that the gift can be shared. In the sharing it multiplies and sends ripples out into the world. This is a deep truth that is just part of learning to be a useful human being.

We are part of a greater whole, and our gifts are best used in concert with others. I am grateful to be part of another wonderful team where our cultivated gifts can multiply and be spread to land on fertile soil where they can be of use to a culture hungry for authentic and meaningful teaching that informs our living.

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