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Letter to Myself: Anthony Maiello

Yamaha Master Educator Anthony Maiello is a Distinguished University Professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. Below, he pens a letter to his younger self, sharing advice, anecdotes and inspiration for a fulfilling career in music education.


Dear Younger Anthony:

As you embark on your career, let me assure you that becoming a music teacher is the perfect profession for you. Teaching is a privilege and will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your passion for making music on a daily basis, and you will see music bring joy and happiness to others. Music is a blessing to be shared. Don’t ever forget this.

When did you find music and music find you? It happened when you were very young because music has always been a part of your life.

Remember the accordion your parents rented for you? Their support as your love of music grew was invaluable.

Anthony MaielloAnd never forget all the wonderful teachers who nurtured, encouraged and inspired you. They all believed in you and taught you to believe in yourself, especially when you questioned your musical abilities. You must now do the same for your students. Teach them music with love, care, kindness, humility and enthusiasm.

Remember the four-person dance band you started in 9th grade? You played the accordion and were joined by a drum set player, a tenor saxophonist and a guitarist — what fun the four of you had playing at weddings, dances and parties! You wrote and arranged music for the band — those skills helped direct you to follow a path to share your love of music with others.

You will meet a doctor, who also happens to be a fine French horn player, and he will define how important your work is when he compares his profession to yours. He will say that his work involves stitching wounds, prescribing medications and assisting people back to good physical health. Then he will tell you, “But you, with your music, you touch souls.” This will be the most powerful statement you will ever hear. It will have an incredible impact on you.

After 54 years as a music educator, I should have a long list of tips and advice for you as you begin your first year of teaching. But all I can say is: There is always more music to learn. If we lived 10 lifetimes, we would just begin to scratch the surface of music.

As a musician, striving for perfection is essential, although we must accept and know full well that we will never achieve it. Music teaches us that we learn by correcting mistakes, one note at a time.

Beethoven said, “To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable!” To this I say, “Amen!”

Let me close by saying that we are so very fortunate to have music as our vocation and avocation.

Good luck!

Anthony in 2019 

This article originally appeared in the 2019 V1 issue of Yamaha SupportED. To see more back issues, find out about Yamaha resources for music educators, or sign up to be notified when the next issue is available, click here.