Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Christmas in May

I woke up today like a kid on Christmas morning, so excited about the classes I was going to teach. But instead of tearing open gifts like new skates, a sled, a picture book or an i-Pad, the kids and I will sing uplifting songs, jam on The 8th Grade Blues, play Japanese children’s games, dance to great music and watch clips from old movies featuring happy songs like High Hopes, Pick Yourself Up and My Favorite Things. 6th grade, 8th, 8th, 2nd, 2nd, 4th, 4th and an elementary sing lined up like a reception line at a wedding, smiling and eager to shake hands with the joys of making music.

What is extraordinary is that I feel such eagerness and pleasure in the last three days of school, a time when teachers are dreaming of the summer lake and eager to live through a day without managing a group of unruly, over-energetic children. What is extraordinary is that I’m completing my 39th year in the same school and I enjoy it as much, and perhaps more, as when I began. What is extraordinary is that an intense day of eight 45-minute classes in a row with barely a break working with over a hundred kids can feel like so much fun. All I can do is marvel that I found this work and this work found me.

A practical tip for music teachers— or perhaps any teacher. Two opposite strategies at the end of the year to keep the flame lit:

1.  Review all the songs, games, dances and more you’ve done. Just play! Just sing! Yesterday, I opened my planning book and sang the first part of each song we had done since September, which is especially fun when you get to singing Halloween and Hanukkah songs in May! Some 35 songs and 20 minutes later, we had to stop and a girl came up in tears and said, “We didn’t get to Free at Last!” (I’m working on sneaking in an extra singing time in the next few days.)

     2. Give a class as if it’s the first class of the next year. I started the 5-year olds working on reading rhythms with cups, a 1st grade activity that was fresh and new and intriguing for them. And for me, too.
   3. If the above don’t work for you, remember: only two more days until that summer house at the lake!!

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