Wednesday, November 23, 2016

You know your music teacher needs a break when...

Yesterday was the last day of school before Thanksgiving break.  Classes were shortened slightly due to an assembly.  Many kids were absent (presumably because their families went out of town early for the holidays).  The day felt twice its length. The last period of the day felt like an eternity. 

In one of my piano classes, I have a trio of boys who have really tested my abilities as a classroom manager. To be honest, they have taught me a lot (but don't tell them that).  I've had to fight maintain composure when all I want to do is send them outside to reek wreak whatever havoc they want outside the confines of my classroom.

Yesterday, as the class was coming to an end, one of them said to me, "Are you going to miss us next year?"  My answer came immediately: "No."  Well, should I tell the truth or should I lie?  What's the moral thing to do, teachers?

But, feeling guilty for my blatant honesty, I made an addendum to my statement.  "I will miss the times when you guys have accomplished really good things and I won't miss the times when you have made my life miserable." I suppose I decided honesty WAS the best policy. 

As I think about these three amigos and what they've taught me, I have to smile.  One of the biggest challenges I've faced with them is their constant complaining that they are bored (which drives me crazy).  I've communicated with their parents throughout the year and one father suggested I let his son play a pop song.  Of course, my immediate reaction was annoyance because you have to learn the basics of how to play before you can play pop songs, and pop songs have rhythms that are too hard, and blah blah blah blah.  But I gave it a try, because I had nothing to lose.  Once that boy got a hold of the music and I explained a few new concepts to him (much beyond where we were as a class, but he listened intently), he took it and worked harder than he had all year.  Then, boy number 2 wanted to learn the same song. And then boy number three.  And by gum, they all learned it.  And they've heard the song on the radio a million times, so the fact that they didn't understand all the rhythms didn't matter, because they knew how it sounded.  But they still had to read the notes in order to make it happen, so it was a win-win.

So what is the moral of the story for me? Sometimes, I have to let go of control and do something counter-intuitive.  

Are things perfect? No. Do they leave their music home half the time, horse around constantly during class, and ask to go to the bathroom every single class period?  Sure do.  But they are not beyond hope, as I sometimes felt at the beginning of the year.  And are they growing on me?  Maybe just a little.