Sunday, October 4, 2015

Feel the Wow!


To piggyback on my “Perfect Ending” blog. It was the first singing time with preschool and I was playing the banjo with some rollicking Skip to My Lou singing with three, four and five-year olds that rolled energetically to a final chord and stopped on the dime of a deep, sudden silence. 75 kids singing their heart out and then that powerful quiet at the end. One beat later, one of the new five-year olds shouted out “Wow!!!!” I could have been mad that she ruined the ending, but it was so sincere and heartfelt, I just said, “You really liked that, didn’t you?” “Yes,” she replied breathlessly. “That was powerful!”
And it was. She got it. Music has a power that you can feel while it’s happening and feel in a different way when it stops. It brings together in one room all the separate parts of ourselves, the mind, body, heart, muscles, nerve endings, brain waves, breathing, all sitting down together in a circle holding hands. Nothing excluded, all of us invited to the party and in dynamic conversations with each other. Nothing— and I mean nothing— uses so much of ourselves.
It pains me down to my last nerve to have narrow slices of human beings tell music teachers what they should be accomplishing and how, according to some slivered idea of what education means. My mission statement is to invite the kids to “feel the wow!!” It’s as simple as that. And invite is the correct verb. I can’t insist or demand or plan or prove or measure or assess the number on the Wow Richter Scale. I just have to trust my own search to find and make and create powerful music and see if the gods will be with us. It’s not totally up to chance, every ounce of my planning is to set the table and make the musical food for the gods enticing and appetizing. But it’s also not a clear-cut and predictable cause and effect any more than our dreams or emotions or the weather is. A skilled teacher can reduce the randomness, increase the chances, but we’re never wholly in control. The Wow! is not a train arriving according to timetable. It’s a bit more like a sunset when the light hits just right and clouds form to make you stop and take notice.
Amidst the adult teacher-talk, let’s keep it simple. Teach so kids can "feel the Wow!" Works for me.

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