Sunday, August 20, 2017

Blue Tape on Red Rubber Mallets


Beginnings. Yesterday 6 hours spent preparing the music room for the year ahead. So much satisfaction in the small details. Sorting, dusting, labeling, arranging and re-arranging, fixing. Things that bothered you every day, but you just couldn’t think about in the midst of the storm of teaching, now able to attend to in the calm of a quiet room with no children. Things like putting pieces of blue tape on the 8 old red rubber mallets that were a different (and preferred) hardness from the new red rubber mallets so they’d be instantly identifiable. Putting the blue yarn vibraphone mallets in their own glass vase instead of picking them out of the larger mallet-filled coffee can. Getting the books out of the baskets (who put them there anyway?) and onto the shelves with spines visible and in ordered groups. Finally deciding to throw out the star chart of kids’ skill mastery from 1978. (Well, actually I moved it to the garage.) Organized the visual noise into a more ordered visual music and letting the room breath again. Like I said, so much satisfaction taking care of the details that will soon be swallowed in the delightful mess of creative work with a few hundred children.

“All things are created thrice” I once wrote, and each incarnation has its own beauty and  pleasure. First comes the dreaming and the preparation. Imagining the class to come and preparing it physically. Then comes the living, the moment of putting feet and muscles and breath to the airy vision. Finally comes the reflection, writing it down in the green book, thinking and re-thinking about how to adjust and improve, restoring the room to neutral.

Sometimes I dread the beginning of the year where we gather as a staff and go through the year calendar and because of the power of the imagination to live things before actually living things, I often already feel exhausted after the first few hours of gathering together again. But these past few years, I’ve missed these opening meetings (my protest against us starting too early in August and our slowness to bump things up a week to back where they should be. Instead of cancelling my Toronto course, I stubbornly insist I keep doing it and thank my colleagues James and Sofia for representing the music department!). May I say it feels just right to begin with the physical work in my own classroom and soon my green planning book will arrive and I’ll handwrite the new schedule and choose a photo for the front cover and take a moment to consider those white pages about to be filled yet again (the 43rd time!) with the record of the small and big miracles we call music class.

Beginnings. The anticipation of new possibilities, another chance to get it right, the freshness of returning from a summer of deep rejuvenation, the satisfaction of putting one’s shoulder to the wheel to get it rolling and the excitement of the trip to come, made easier by finding the good red rubber mallets because of the blue tape. 

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