Finals follow-up…student reaction

The other day, I talked about the Final and what I was going to do.

I briefly explained what the final was going to be and even included a link to the website I used.

Now…let’s talk about the reaction of the students.

As I mentioned in the previous blog entry, I did have a student ask me in the middle of the “final” why I couldn’t have just given a traditional final.

Yesterday was a different story.  

*Students that had struggled during the first day of exploration with this new concept weren’t struggling as much as did before.  They were even letting loose a little and seemed to enjoy it.

*Students that usually were labelled “not the best students” or “students that didn’t put enough effort into their work” or any other typical complaint of some teachers, were doing better than the traditionally “superb” students. Immediately I thought it was because this was out of the box thinking process that doesn’t always follow students that used to formulaic teaching and learning.

One student, who has struggled in every class she takes, was flying high because she was getting the answers despite her partner being one of those “good” student.  The joy I saw on her face when her thought process or answers were proven right was worth everything!

*Students that were burnt out on school?…HAD FUN!

*Students that usually stayed in the background because they didn’t always feel connected to their peers and/or had interests that didn’t always match their peers, found ways to contribute.  My favorite part of the final for these students usually came when their group was faced with the Minesweeper challenge.  If they were familiar with the game, they aced it right away and helped their group moved forward.  Even if they weren’t familiar, they usually figured out what to do first, which earned them the same result.

So…what happened today? 

Today was an interesting day:)

Today, we arrived at school to find our power out and not knowing if we would be able to get the planned activities done, whether we would hold school the entire day or send them home.  Eventually, it was decided to keep going with school even without power.

The interesting part about holding school when there is no power is what to do with the students that showed up.  See…today was the day the 9th graders went to our local amusement park about an hour after school started leaving the 7th and 8th graders to have shortened class periods so they could have a field day in the later portion of the day.  We already had much fewer students but now we had the added scenario of no power.

This meant, whatever technological idea a teacher might have had, was out the door.  I felt as though I couldn’t just have the kids sit around but I also didn’t want to just put them to work cleaning my classroom.  In the end?  A little of both.  Each class was given a small task to help with end of year preparations.  Once we got to fourth period, I had a few more students and they wanted to do more.  So, together, we got to work on a task I had recently found out about and wasn’t really looking forward to.

What’s the point of this train of thought?

Well, I found it interesting that the students I worked side by side with over the next few hours (many stayed to help rather than go onto their other classes) asked questions and made comments about the final.

I had one student remark over and over again how she really liked our final. This is a good student.  She always puts in the effort she needs to succeed and she seems to do well in all of her classes but I wouldn’t say she was at the top of her class, not that that is really all that important, but she said that the final gave her a chance to use her music skills in a different way.

I know I’ve already said this but “this was everything”.  It was everything I had hoped for.  It was everything I had planned to happen but was unsure if it would.

I even had a student that had been absent for the final, show up just after the power came on so we put her to work on it.  I got her started but since the power was on, I needed to get our auditorium set up for a slide show so I asked one student to supervise her and come get me if there were questions.

This was a student who, again was a good student but not one that some teachers would call great.  The student I asked to assist her was one I knew wouldn’t just give her the answers but would actually help if there was a problem.  Despite not having the opportunity to work with her peers in the days previous, she BREEZED RIGHT THROUGH IT!  She didn’t fly through it but she did it well and rather quickly.  I was asked a couple of times to answer some questions but she took my assistance well and figured it out.

It was pretty cool to peek in and see her progress.

And…she loved the tasks!

Success happened here.  I didn’t get a chance to get student feedback on what they would do differently but I am planning on doing that next year.  It will be fun to see how the Breakouts can be used for different purposes and which purpose fits best for my students.

Decluttering and Simplicity

 

Simplicity is a good thing. 

 

 

Today at school, simplicity was the name of the game.

  1. Get needed information to the students as quickly as possible.
  2. Work on needed skills.
  3. Practice multiple times to gain confidence.

Students and most adults have very short attention spans.  So it paramount to getting instructions out to the students as quickly as possible.  Though it is also necessary to realize although the instructions can be quick, in middle school students will still have a lot of questions. So patience is also in order.

As we marked today as one week until our concert, we needed to practice. The skills that were most in need were specific places of choreography within a piece and/or being able to sing while doing choreography.

Therefore, we practiced many times.  I even warned the students their “favorite word” was going to be AGAIN.

Today at home, simplicity also came in handy.  It came in the form of many volunteers showing up to help in the moving of large items to another location in preparation of the yard sale this weekend.

I knew I had a lot of stuff but boy did I really see it today!

This leads me to the next part of today’s rant, oh I mean blog:)

Decluttering

“Decluttering does not mean getting rid of everything you own, it merely means taking away that which you really don’t want / need or use anymore.

There are so many advantages to decluttering, that it’s a great way to give yourself and your home a boost every so often.”

This quote makes me smile. Why? Well, because I am decluttering in a way that will purge so much from my life.  And yet, I have seen it in its fullness so many times before.

I grew up being raised by my grandparents.  My grandmother purged, now called decluttering, often.  I remember when I was fourteen, just after my father had passed away finding myself as the only beneficiary.  Of course, my grandparents couldn’t take all of the furniture my father had.  We didn’t have the space.  Homes where I lived were smaller than many are today. I was asked to select a piece or two to bring back with me.

I remember wanting my father’s water-bed.  It was a king size bed with beautiful wooden slats in canopy that made one feel at peace and at home.  It bounced when I sat on it and when I laid down.  I already had a full-size bed at my grandparents home so I really didn’t need a bed.  However, I really wanted it.  I was effectively told no.  Not because they didn’t want me to have my father’s things but because my room simply couldn’t fit a king sized bed! Yet, I persisted.  Eventually, my grandmother sold the bed to someone else.  I don’t even know who.  Since this was no longer an option, although I pouted about it for quite a long time, I ended up choosing my father’s stereo and stereo cabinet.

You know, that cabinet has been with me since that day.  The stereo has long been gone but the cabinet remains.  It is sturdy and strong.  It is made of hardwood. It is simplistic in structure and design. It treasures things behind the glass doors that has value. It is everything that symbolizes who my father was.

Today, I began a serious process of decluttering my life and working towards simplicity.

Image result for decluttering

The picture at the beginning of today’s post is the bed I have started dismantling and will sell at the yard sale.  It is just one item of many that will be sold. But my father’s cabinet will remain with us.  It will continue to stand for someone who showed me that despite whatever obstacles or challenges I may face, I can be simplistic and treasure things I value.  I can be sturdy and strong just like that cabinet and my father.

 

Yearly School Talent Show

Today was our yearly student talent show.  

Last year, I was on the committee that auditioned the students and selected the acts to perform at the assembly. It was an interesting experience as it was my first year teaching choir and the first year at my school.  I had spent the entire year getting to know my students and working with them on some basic skills I felt were the most important for our first year together.

But as the talent show auditions approached, I became increasingly frustrated.  Since I was on the committee, I was required to be at the auditions. This meant I couldn’t help my students prepare their pieces for the audition.  I had a number of students, both inside and outside of my class, ask me for help and I had to turn them away.  I felt awful.  The day of the auditions was fun and enjoyable.  However, I kept wishing I could have been a resource for many that auditioned.

Since becoming the Advisor to our school Stage Crew, I wasn’t put on the talent show committee.  It was bittersweet.  I know I had hoped I could be of help to students but I kind of missed being a part of the whole process.

This year, students could ask for my help and get it.  Anyone that came in, I listened to their thoughts, their performances and gave suggestions that would help them.  Unfortunately, they also kept coming to me with logistical questions I couldn’t answer because I wasn’t on the committee anymore. Thankfully, all I had to do what send them to the teacher that was over it.

Although I’ve seen the show from both sides of being an auditioner and coordinator vs being a teacher giving assistance and scheduling stage crew, I’m not sure which one I truly like best.  In some ways I would like to do both but I know that’s completely insane and I wouldn’t be able to help my students prepare.  I think I’m willing to give up much but I wouldn’t trade being there for any student that wants my help.

The really cool thing?  Last year, I had two students from my choirs make it into the talent show.  One played the piano and sang.  The other played the piano so I don’t know if I can really count this one as it wasn’t voice.

This year, I had three singers! I even had one that was in my choirs but she played her cello with a group from her orchestra class.  I was especially pleased that they did so well.  One of the students acts very large in personality but I’ve gotten to know that student really well and can see the insecurities that others can’t see.  That student got up in front of the school and performed a piece that wasn’t easy.  Our school population is quite large in comparison to our building and so we have to do three assemblies so that all of our students can see the show.  Imagine being a student that is clearly prepared but has struggled in such a way they aren’t sure how they will be received.  Imagine knowing you did your best and you made a success of your situation. I can’t wait to see what happens in the future for that student and all the others that strive for excellence.

Quotes for the moment

Today, I saw these two pics during my prep period.  Thanks to   and   for these quotes.

I decided to write them on the whiteboard and see what happened. 

What happened was really interesting…

Initially I had thought I would save the quotes for the next day but I was worried I might forget:) So I decided to write them on the board right then and there.  It might be seen by one class (my prep is 6th period and then I teach one more class before the school bell rings) but I was hopeful.

See…this class had struggled yesterday.  They were feeling tired after the weekend and out of their comfort zone because we were doing “CHOREOGRAPHY”! We had ended the class yesterday with a short, 5 minute, discussion on how the pattern we were seeing each day was making it so we weren’t going to be ready for the concert in 14 school days.  We talked about how to overcome their fears and how each of them was important to the team. I hoped for the best for today.

I said nothing about the quotes on the board as they came in.  I just listened and watched.  Each student had their own response.  Some didn’t notice anything.  Some glanced and kept moving towards their seat.  And then it happened.  I heard this small yet audible gasp.  I looked over to where it came from.  I found the source and loved the look I received.  It was as if a lightbulb had gone off in my student’s head.  She was surprised but seemed excited. She even made a comment which to the effect that she loved the play on words. She had noticed the quote on success and it really resounded with her.  Once she noticed, more students noticed.  Then they noticed the other quote. It was so interesting to continue to watch their responses.  This only took a couple of minutes but I was truly excited for what I was seeing.

I asked them what they thought of the quotes.  This let into a short discussion (again only about 5 minutes as those seem to powerful time spans) into what we each thought.  The amazing thing was in the way that they participated today.  I still had one that was visibly tired and felt sorry and somewhat worried for him but even he still gave a lot.

We started where we last left off. They practice, they worked, they created success.  We were even able to continue to work so well that they finished the piece. This was something that didn’t seem like it was ever going to happen.  It was complete turnaround.  We even reviewed the beginning of another piece and were able to add a new part to that one.  The new part REALLY took them out of the comfort zone but they did it and they did it well.

The things I have learned from my PLN on Twitter has been so ideal that I won’t be stopping my learning any time soon.

I know there are many more quotes I have LIKED so I can have access to them and I know there are many more I will find but I am thankful for the quotes I saw at that moment. It changed everything.

 

Choral Intent

What is Choral Intent? 

Choral Intent is the process in which a group determines what needs to be done.  

What does that have to do with Choir? 

Well, choir is all about the group.  At least it should be.

I know…you’re saying “Well, my choir (band, orchestra, theater) director was the one always in charge.” He/she dictated what we were going to do or sing, when we were going to do it, and how we were going to do it.  To some extent, you’re right.  The director is very important to the group.  He/she has to have a vast knowledge about music, where it comes from, background knowledge about genres and/or composers, conducting skills, interpretation skills, etc.  However, in reality, a choir director can only direct students.

This is the way I see it:

A director shares what they know and together with the students, they create something new and unique from anyone else.  No group will ever perform that same way.  It might be similar but it won’t be the same.  The same director could work with two different groups and the results will still be different. That’s because the overall group, although it has the same director, is vastly different.  It is inherently unique.

So, what does this have to do with my class (I don’t teach choir)?

I think it’s the same principle.  The teacher is just like a director.  It is your job to share knowledge that you have as it pertains to the subject(s) you teach. However, you can’t stop there.  You need to remember that the students have to take ownership of their learning. The only way to do that is to facilitate their learning by allowing and encouraging creation within the group.  It not only shows students how to work together more efficiently, the product is by far greater than it could be with just you at the helm.

Let me give you an example:

One of my choirs is full of 7th grade girls.  I can’t teach them like I teach the other classes, even the other one that is also full of 7th grade girls. I can’t teach them the same because they aren’t the same.  This group of girls has a large portion of dancers in the class.  These girls spend two, three, four or even five days each week at dance classes.  The days they have dance, they dance from 3:30-9:00pm.  WOW!  I didn’t have to spend that much time when I was doing theater!  We are currently getting ready for our final concert of the school year and we are working on choreography.  Most of the classes prefer to have me choose the basics of the movement with some input from the students.  This class, I knew needed to have some control over what they were going to put out.  It’s just the best way to get them excited about performing.

Let me give you an NON-CHOIR example:

When teaching 6th grade, I was charged with teaching my students about the Solar System.  Now, I could have just taught them the basics about planet, had them notes, etc. etc. Instead, I got them outside and we set up an experiment where the intent was to introduce the students to the solar system.  I didn’t create it myself.  I had already been taught this.  I was just sharing my knowledge.  The students were given a planet, moon or other space object to represent.  Then they were given the distances away from the sun.  Their job was to figure out how far away they would have to stand if one foot equalled x amount of miles.  It was awesome to watch and communicate with the students.  This took time but boy did they learn about distance.  After the activity, they wanted to learn more.  So I asked them to find out about the object they represented.  It was so much fun for them to explore, learn and share what they found out with each other.  I even learned tons more about the Solar System than I had previously known.

What is Choral Intent? 

Choral Intent is the process in which a group determines what needs to be done.  

To me…choral intent is when a group comes together and works together for a purpose.  Sometimes, they have to work on their own for a while in order to prepare for the group purpose but in the end it always makes it better!

Choral Biases

When I think of choral bias, I immediately think of the comparisons that are often made between instrumentalists and singers.

Let me explain: 

 

When I was in high school, we had band and choir.  I participated only in choir, as that was my love, but I had many friends in band.  We hung out, we talked music, we participated in musicals together, etc.  It didn’t seem to matter whether you were in the band or the choir or both.

However, when I got to college I was in a for HUGE shock.  Not only was I a small fish in a big pond where competition amongst was enormous but now I had to contend with those who looked down on me.  The first class I remember attending that had both instrumentalists and singers in it was my piano class.

Now, I had taught myself how to play the piano simply because my grandparents didn’t believe I actually wanted to learn the instrument. Thankfully, they saw my desire and got me into lessons. The problem was in that I had taught myself so much, the teachers I had assumed I had more technical skills than I did.  This plagued me for years.  Because of the lessons I ended up taking from my choir teacher (who was a fabulous pianist) I continued to get better at playing and even accompanied one of the choirs I sang in on multiple occasions.  However, my technical skills still weren’t that fabulous when it came to scales, arpeggios, and Hanon (since I had never heard of that until I got to college).

Anyway, the first day of piano class came and we all introduced ourselves.  As soon as I said that I was a vocal major, I saw an immediate response that SHOCKED me.  A vast majority of the students looked at me with disgust on their face as though being a singer was a “less than musician”.  Some even voiced that opinion.  They said things like, “Oh…you’re a singer” and “Do you even know what the piano is?” The teacher even shared their opinions.  Every day after that, I felt as though I had to prove my worth as a musician.

Ok…I know, you’re out there saying “Well that’s just one class!”. Well, I hate to say it but you’re wrong.  That was only the first one.  Every theory, sight singing, dictation, or conducting class, etc. where musicians were not separated by instrument, I got the same response.  I didn’t get it.  Why did they think singers weren’t good enough?  Why did there seem to be such bias?

I have had many years to ponder this and experienced more instances when this happened both in and out of school.  I’ve even seen it as a choir teacher from my students’ parents.  Why does this happen?

One of my colleagues, that is a trombonist and teaches orchestra, and I talked about this.  He had never thought about the things that I shared.  Yet, as we were discussing my experiences and feelings, he realized that he too had participated in such events.  He admitted making fun of the lack of musicianship he had seen in singers.

Over the years, I’ve had many theories.  They usually come down to the teachers and/or parents that pass on bias to their students.  This is usually in the form of how difficult it is to play and instrument compared to how easy it is to just open your mouth and sing. Not even looking at how difficult it is to maintain pitch with or without accompaniment, how difficult it is to maintain respiration just as a trumpeter or oboist.

However, I have also noticed that too often there are singers that decide they want to be music majors but have failed to prepare themselves for the rigors of the program as much as they should.  Sometimes, they have been repeatedly advised to prepare but have failed to do so. Unfortunately, more often than not, they get to college unprepared because they either didn’t have a teacher to inform them of the requirements, a teacher that was qualified to inform them or a teacher that spent all of their time making choir “FUN” that the skills of a musician never got taught.  The students sounded great but didn’t understand what they were singing, why they were singing it or how it was created.

Both of these theories may not have been proven but they did seem to align with what I hearing from my colleague.  He felt I was definitely on right track. 

Well, the bias I have, has definitely been influenced by my experiences because of the feeling I had of always having to prove my worth.

It manifests itself in how rigorous my choral program is and the expectations I put on myself to prepare for class every day.  It meant that my first year I put an inordinate amount of pressure on myself to create that rigor and maintain it.

It manifests itself in what pieces I choose, what I teach my students, and the standard that has been placed on my students as I try to create a solid program that can compete with two of the finest musicians I have been privileged to work with…the band and orchestra teachers. Their skills make me want to be better.  They never try to make me feel inferior, yet I do.  The bias I have lived with for so long still performs in my mind and constantly recreates itself so I feel like I am still proving my worth.

I find that those same biases I complain about, I have had for my students.  I found myself, in my first year, comparing students based on whether they had taken piano lessons or not prior to taking my class.  I was finding myself wanting to teach to those students who had previous musical experience before those who had not.   What a terrible thing to do!

Thankfully, I realized what I was doing.  I can’t say it was a quick realization but at least it happened.  I realized that just because one of my students has had musical training prior to my class does not guarantee they will understand what I have to share with them. Sometimes, it’s the so-called ‘non musician’ that understands it first.  Today, I look at each student, make sure they understand, ask specific questions to check understanding and see how they apply the knowledge.  It is fascinating to me when it all comes together.  

 

Music and Collaboration

If you haven’t already realized I often think and communicate in the form of song, you haven’t read enough of my blog entries;) I don’t go through the day without having had many concourses of songs pass through my mind by the simple expresses of a word or phrase given to me in conversation with students, colleagues or family.

I was just reading an article about how bringing music and song lyrics into the classroom can impact the learning in your classroom.  The author even goes so far as to say:

“It’s amazing how song lyrics dig themselves deep into our minds and stay there our whole lives.

However, when we want to learn something and try to memorize it, it won’t stick as easy as a song will.”

That got me thinking.  

What do you when your WHOLE CLASS is all about music and especially song lyrics? Well, in my case, you try to make sure the lyrics mean something to the students.  You discuss them together, you listen to the student’s thoughts and feelings about the text, you try your best to make them understand why the composer and/or lyricist wrote the lyrics in the way they did.

But this article was about those OTHER CLASSES. 

“Music and lyrics can play powerful roles in the classroom. They can help students remember key content. They can encourage conversations. Plus, there’s great fun in creating music that relates to class content.”

That brought a thought to mind I’ve had many times before:

WHY AREN’T TEACHERS FROM THOSE “OTHER” CLASSES ASKING TO

COLLABORATE WITH THE MUSIC TEACHERS,

especially those that teach CHOIR?

The sad reality is…I don’t think we always know or will always know.

I know a lack of collaboration can occur because sometimes there’s a disconnect between “CORE” subjects and “Elective” subjects.

Intentionally or Unintentionally, teachers of so-called “CORE” classes think their class in more important and don’t see benefit in a class where you prepare music, therefore no thought of collaboration happens. But I’ve seen this happens with classes that are deemed “Elective” courses just like music is.

Sometimes, there is an expectation of the music class to work on specific types of music so, in this case, it could the music teacher’s reluctance to collaborate because it might interfere with “their plans” or required competition or even the expectation the community has for the required performances of this class.

I think a lot of times, it’s just not thought of.  Collaboration is often thought of within one’s content structure.  Math teachers collaborate with Math teachers. Science teachers collaborate with Science teachers.  Choir teachers collaborate with Choir teachers.  This goes on and on.  It’s there in excess once you hit the middle/junior high school or high school realm.  Everyone is thinking about what “I” need “my” students to do in “my” class.

I have had a dream for a number of years where the bounds of collaboration are broken.  Where a Math teacher can find ways to work with any other subject and make relevance.  I know this happens often with Elementary school teachers, but that is sometimes because that teacher teaches all subjects (at least they do in Utah). My dream would be that classes cross boundaries.  We get out of the mindset of mine and yours and think “OURS”. When the classrooms become OURS, then I truly believe that learning can be pushed past boundaries, past mandatory testing, past what I keep hearing people saying is wrong with public education today. It also means that our contents become AUTHENTIC, RELEVANT and REAL to our students because they won’t see anything other than a COMMUNITY. 

 

I don’t know about you, but if I get the opportunity to find a place where that happens, I’m going to grab it and run all the way there.  It won’t matter what it takes for me to be prepared, but prepared I will be and innovation I will see.

Confusion

CONFUSION 

Confusion can happen at any moment.  

Confusion is just that…confusing.  

Confusion can be frustrating, especially when it comes with the caveat of a needed decision.

  • What do you do when you know what you want and you can’t have what you want so you have to find something new?
  • What do you do when you think you know what you want and you are told it’s not possible so you have you look in a new direction?
  • What do you do when you have what you think you want but are told it has to change?
  • What do you do when you’ve done the work to look somewhere else and you found, not just one but two valid possibilities?

YOU MAKE A DECISION

Decisions can be just as frustrating.  It’s hard enough to make a decision when you don’t see any options or when there are two options presented.  It’s worse when there are three.  Because then you can take those three options and make SO MANY MORE.

All of this reminds me of Cinderella’s lament from Into the Woods.

“You think, what do you want?
You think, make a decision…It’s my first big decision,
The choice isn’t easy to make.”
https://www.allmusicals.com/lyrics/intothewoods/onthestepsofthepalace.htm

Too often people decide not to decide.  They put off the decision. They leave it until it’s too late and they lose out on a better life or at least the opportunity of one.  They might even hurt the ones they profess to care for through their indecision.

Decisions may be hard and even sometimes painful, but you have to make them.  Life does not go on without decisions.

How do you make the right decision? 

Well, I can’t tell you the RIGHT way for you or even for every situation.

I can only tell you what I do.  

Start with the pros and cons of the situation.  Are the pros and cons equal? Are there more pros than cons or vice versa? Are the pros and cons equivalent? Can they even be compared? Does your list contain feelings or logic or both?

I would tell you to eliminate the feelings, at least initially.  To me, if you are going to do a Pros & Cons list, feelings can’t be there.  This is supposed to be the logical part.  Feelings and intuition will come into play later.

Once the list is done, look at it. Does it make sense? Do you get any sense there is a distinct way to go? YES? Great, you probably made your decision and it was rather quick.  NO? Unsure? Yep, you’re like me.  You probably somehow, intentionally or unintentionally, made sure the lists were equal in length.  Yep…you and I have a problem.  Our need to have things even made it so the list isn’t as helpful as it is intended to be.

So what next?

I say…look at that list again.  Is there anything on the list that when push comes to shove you would say it’s not really important?  Is there anything on one side or the other on that list that you simply dismiss because you really have already made your decision, you are just prolonging the potential joy or agony?

For me, sometimes the list tells me everything I need to know.  Sometimes it tells me what I already knew.  Sometimes, it doesn’t seem to really help at all.

So…I ask again…what next?

If you have faith of any kind, this is the time to use it.  If your faith is a huge part of who you are, I would recommend praying since that is one of the inherent qualities of having any kind of faith. If not, keep trying with different logical situations and deeply ponder it. Talk to friends, etc.  Either way, process completely yet don’t take too long.  You don’t want something to pass you by that would benefit you, your family and/or others you are intending to help or work with. You may also have to process quickly because you are given a time limit.  We all know that adds to the stress but is sometimes a necessary requirement of an organization.

Confusion?…Process and make a Decision.

Choreographed Progress

Today, most of the choir classes got at least half of a song choreographed.  Some even got all the way through to the end of the song. YAHOO!  Such progress! I am so please that the students are grasping onto the concept of choreography and performance in this way.  The students are beginning to really let go and make it happen.  I can’t even tell you how exciting this is.

What even excites me even more is how open they are to possibilities and how willing they are to make suggestions.  Sometimes I have to tell them their suggestions won’t work or don’t fit the piece. But a lot of times I can use the idea or modify it slightly to make it work.  Another student choice day…what a wonderful thing.

Tomorrow marks three weeks until our final concert for the school year.  If the students keep working as hard as they are, they will be so ready and polished for the performance that it will be a joy to all who witness it.  I am so grateful for their perseverance, tenacity and willingness to do what needs to be done.

Tuesday Afternoon

Tuesday

Somehow, Tuesday is always harder on my students than Monday was.  Those that were wide awake yesterday are exhausted today.  I’m sure why that happens.  It just seems to work out that way.  Thankfully, most were excited to come into our classroom and work to learn right away.  Those that needed more time, took a few more minutes to regroup and quickly joined in.

Today…Tuesday, was our first day with staging our pieces for our upcoming concert.  This is always a challenge because some students don’t feel comfortable “dancing” in front of an audience.  With the help and support of the other students, we find ways  to help alleviate most stresses.  Through this process, we realize that if we all work together, the show will be a success.  If someone doesn’t give their all, it will be that person the audience looks at…sometimes with a critical eye, sometimes with confusion, sometimes with pity.  If they do their best, no one will know they don’t feel comfortable.  The students are also reminded that we have about three weeks to practice and accomplish all of this…ample time to help each of us become more practiced and at ease with what we are going to do.

I haven’t told most of the classes yet that I will be singing with one of the groups.  The group I will be singing with knows, just not the others. I haven’t ever sung with my students at any of our concerts thus far. When we practice and I demonstrate what I want from them, many of my students have asked me to sing to them.  Some have even asked me to sing with them on occasion.  However, I have always felt it was their show…not mine.

Earlier this year, I went to a music training where the presenter talked about ways to enhance our choir performances.  Many of those ways are in the works for this concert.  But one stuck out to me…the presenter asked us why we weren’t singing with our students.  The responses given were very much like my thoughts.  He then went on to say…If you aren’t sharing your talents with your students, what are doing teaching them? Wow, that made me think.

So, I went to my advanced group and asked them what they wanted.  Did they want me to sing with them?  Would they rather have it be solos from the students? Although there are always students that want to sing solos, I was really surprised by the number of students that wrote on a silent/anonymous ballot that they wanted me to sing with them.  I was honored.

I still want them to shine more than me so I gave into their requests for me starting the song with a black stage and spotlight, them slowly joining me on stage singing as they enter but then I will back off so my voice blends rather than stands out.  It will be an interesting evening as this piece is our closing number.  It will be interesting because many decisions should have been made by then.  It will be interesting to see what some of the parents say about me performing with their students.

For now, I worry not about those things.

For now, I care much more about getting the students ready and finding my groove with how we want to perform it.

For now, I will continue to look for Tuesday afternoons:

I’m just beginning to see
Now I’m on my way
It doesn’t matter to me
Chasing the clouds away