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Navigating My Own Path: From a Music Major to an Educator


Adelaide Fuller '17
Adelaide Fuller '17

Well before the beginning of my freshman year at Hamilton, I knew I wanted to study music. Singing, fiddling, musical theatre—these have been passions of mine since childhood. Upon entering Hamilton, I was eager to take advantage of every musical opportunity possible--vocal performance lessons, the Hamilton College Choir and College Hill Singers, a cappella (I love you, Hamiltones!), student-run open-mic nights, jazz band—I am deeply grateful for these opportunities. I am so fortunate to have attended a college where the performing arts were a focus. Thanks to Hamilton’s open curriculum, I packed my academic schedule with as many music courses as possible while giving myself space to explore other disciplines, such as history, gender studies, and literature.

As a senior, I completed a two-part honors thesis: a classical vocal recital and a choral conducting performance. I loved every minute. But once the spring semester began, I started to feel a bit panicky. Some of my friends had been accepted to their dream master’s programs, others were getting job offers that would kick start their career in the field they studied at Hamilton. With graduation approaching, I wasn’t sure what I wanted. What area of music would I study at grad school? What did I want my career to look like? 

So, I did the only thing that made sense. I moved to Ireland. I had studied abroad in Cork my junior year, fell in love with the country and its people, and seized the opportunity to go back. A Working Holiday Authorization made this dream come true—a dream I knew would be harder to pursue further down the line. For a year I waitressed, explored the country, played the fiddle, and took voice lessons with a renowned instructor. I thought about grad school. But it just didn’t feel quite right. 

When I moved back home to Maine, some of that panic I’d felt senior year set in again. I felt I had somehow set myself off track, even though I didn’t know what that track should be. Over the next couple of years, I had several jobs, three of which stand out as particularly important. I substitute taught in an elementary school. I wrote grants and chaperoned for the Maine Youth Rock Orchestra. I took on a fiddle student. The pieces began, slowly, to fall together. I knew education and music were equally important to me. In February of 2020, I started applying for development positions at music education nonprofits. Then COVID-19 hit in March.

For six months, I submitted countless applications for a variety of positions to no avail. In my cover letters, I often wrote about those three experiences mentioned above. After some reflection, I came to understand why I had enjoyed them so much. It was the direct impact I was able to have on the lives of students. It was the connection we shared as mentors and mentees. It was the recognition of my hard work that arrived in the shape of a friendship bracelet, a crayon drawing, and a video of my fiddle student playing “Happy Birthday” when I turned 25. I knew I wanted to be a teacher. 

Since that pivotal moment , I have moved to Brooklyn. I have been offered a position as a teaching fellow at Classical Charter Schools. I start next spring. Not only will I gain valuable classroom experience at Classical, but I will also gain my master’s degree in education. I am beyond excited to jump into my teaching career — and I am no longer panicking.

I am still pursuing my love of music — I sing, I teach fiddle, and I am learning how to play the guitar. But I am certain now that, career-wise, teaching is right for me. Down the line, I would love for these two passions to intersect. Perhaps I will be a classroom music teacher! 

This is all to say: don’t feel as though you must follow some kind of straight, predetermined path. Hamilton will equip you with the tools you need to navigate your future. Pursue those things you love, and after some twists and turns, you will land exactly where you should.
 

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