I woke up this morning and thought about my day and a second thought piggybacked on to it all, more or less: “Hmm. Not many people will have a day anything like mine.” Not that it’s anything special or amazing, but there is a certain satisfaction to the fact that it’s a day that I wholly created by all my life choices and fits me perfectly. In a world of work easily explainable as “Doctor, lawyer, farmer, IT worker,” no high school guidance counselor has a place for this in their book. In my job as music teacher at the SF School, here’s what I did today:
8:15: Taught 30 6th graders the basic rhythms and calls and responses to samba in preparation for our end-of-the-year Samba Contest. We played, sang and danced a bit.
9:00: First ever guitar and ukulele class with 8th grade, teaching them the chord changes to an old jazz standard.
9:45: The same with the other 8th grade group, this time with chord diagrams on the board.
10:45: 25 four and five-year olds, the 4’s watching the 5’s perform a casual version of The Billy Goats Gruff, complete with goat bells I bought in Spain, bass xylophones (the trip-trap part), bass drums and cymbal (the troll part), Orff metallophones in pentatonic scales with recorder (peacefully eating grass). Then we sang Side by Side accompanied three different ways—ukulele, guitar and piano— and they had to name their favorite. A new song for the young ones, by the end of the third time, they mostly had it.
11:30: As above, with 25 kids from the other preschool class.
12:45: The Talent Show at Singing Time. 3rd graders playing on piano and singing Heart and Soul while three others did gymnastic routines. 2nd grade vocal solo of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah (beautiful!), another 2nd grader playing Fur Elise on piano, yet another The Yellow Submarine on guitar. And so on. Then kids auditioning for the next week’s Talent Show with capoeira, break dancing, spoons playing, banjo, jokes, saxophone and more.
1:30: Whole 4th grade (20 kids) square dancing with me playing banjo.
2:15: Alum visits and I make her sing My Funny Valentine with me on piano (she’s a fabulous singer and majoring in musical theater in college).
3:30: Rodgers and Hart, Gershwin, Bach, Mozart with my 90-year-old friends at the Jewish home.
That was my day. Samba, fairy tales, square dance, jazz songs, drums, ukelele, guitar, banjo, recorder, piano with folks from 4 to 94 years old.
There’s two more weeks of school left and somehow I thought it would be a good idea to squeeze in some neglected school traditions into the last 9 days. The Talent Show, the Cookie Jar Contest, the Frozen Logger Contest, the Samba Contest, the Mudpie Song Ritual (unless you're an SFS alum, I'm imagining you're thinking "Huh?"), the 4th grade field trip to the Jewish Home. Really, I am out of my mind, but hey, why not? The kids are on fire, practicing like crazy for the Talent Show and soon to practice in groups for the Samba Contest and sharpening up their Cookie Jar skills and on and on.
I can only be grateful that they pay me for all of this. The Beatles would have had a hard time capturing it in a song, but my whole life is a song and most importantly, it’s my song, the one I was meant to sing. One can only be grateful.