Ryan Dillon, Music Education, Kansas State University
The arts have played an influential role in my life since my childhood. From the age of five I can remember bringing my sketchpad with me on every car ride as my parents played recordings of their newest (or most recently rediscovered) musical obsessions to accompany the trip. Both car rides and home life were filled with an eclectic mix of jazz, pop, latin, alternative, gospel, reggae, R&B, soul, or even classical music. I received daily doses of culture through the musical creations of Bobby McFerrin, Prince, Mariah Carey, Michael and Janet Jackson, Sting, Earth Wind & Fire, Lauryn Hill, and Bob Marley (to name a few). I was in love with music and it often inspired my drawings and paintings.
The arts were there for me during my challenging middle school and high school years, and I would often find solace through the shared experience of a favorite musician, or an escape through comic books. I slept with my favorite radio station on, blasted it in the shower as I got dressed, and then put on my headphones throughout my school day. I joined the orchestra and played the viola in middle school, but later switched to choir and took up singing during my high school years. This was when my love for music truly took over and I began to devote my energy toward music creation and performance.
Upon entrance in college, I began a brief stint in architecture before switching to music education as a result of my deep interest in the topic. During college, I continued to explore music and developed my performance and composition skills. I participated in the United Black Voices gospel choir, K-State's Concert Choir, Collegiate Chorale, and vocal jazz ensembles, and sang in the community through service on church Praise & Worship teams and a few performances with a friend's jazz ensemble.
Music is such an integral part of my life that I figured it was obvious that once I decided to teach I would teach music. In the schools, students have so many things put on their plate that they are required to do. I respect the opportunity afforded by music's current status as an elective, that it is something they choose to do. With so much required of them, students need the opportunity to release and express. As they express, students are refreshed and can form new approaches to challenges ahead of them. Music provides me with a platform to help facilitate that process for them.