I was talking with my wife the other day. This is something I get to do occasionally when my kids aren’t within 40 feet of us. Any closer and there’s no way we can hear each other. I’m fully convinced that the emotional closeness of a married couple is inversely proportional to the distance between them and their kids (a mathematical study in progress). Aside from this, I did get to talk to my wife the other day. She’s a music teacher and sings with our local oratorio society. They’re doing the Beethoven Mass and she said to me that her part was “difficult because of the high tessitura.” I minored in music in college, so that means that I forgot what a tessitura is. She explained that it’s the central range of a voice part, kind of like the musical average of a piece.
Musical average? Sounds like math to me. So I’ve been thinking about it ever since. Here’s a great definition of tessitura from britannica.
But instead of math, it brought me to teaching in general. I think teachers develop an Educational Tessitura: a range of instructional styles, lesson plans, content choices, projects/assessments that they are comfortable with and live within when preparing to teach each year and each day. This is the range of skills, like britannica states, that is most consistently used. However, around their tessitura is a full range of other educational experiences. Some teachers live within a high energy tessitura, others around the comfortable traditions. When we listen to music, we appreciate the skills of each musician, and at the same time, appreciate the full range of the music we hear.
What is your Educational Tessitura? What are you doing most consistently as a teacher? And also, what lies outside your Tessitura that can truly increase the beauty of your work?
And enjoy some Valkyries while you’re thinking about it.