Yep, a third grader said that after he was leaving my class. I taught a guest class at a school in Maryland and the kids were lined up at the door. “It’s recess now,” said his friend and he retorted, “This was better than recess!” No higher compliment could be paid to an elementary school music teacher.
Why would he say that? Recess is free time! Time to play with your friends or alone, time to explore, no right and wrong answers to worry about, no one telling you what to do. What could be better than that?
Without that boy here to interview, I can only guess. But my guess is this. He discovered he could play fabulous music that he had no idea was possible for him to play. In 30 short minutes, he was led by a step-by-step process of revelation how simple parts could combine together to create a swingin’ jazz piece playable by an 8-year old— and one that sounded good! He discovered something he didn’t even know he was looking for in a convivial atmosphere where everyone was happy and all were involved, contributing, discovering their own little epiphanies. And led by a teacher who enjoyed them, was interested in them, had used his time these past decades dedicated to discovering how to do this better. He never actually knew the teacher’s name (mine) nor would be likely to see him again, but none of that mattered. For 30 minutes in a school day, he was led to a new land within himself.
I awoke at 5:15 this morning in Annapolis (2:15 am California time), was driven an hour to the school, taught three third grade classes, one second grade, one high school jazz band, short lunch, then first grade, then kindergarten, an hour to the airport, sit on the runway an hour, fly 5 hours with a crying baby next to me, another hour to BART and bus home and now awake at 5:30 am San Francisco time with a full day of school ahead. Was it all worth it to hear those five words?
Yes it was.