Last week, I "volunteered" in my son's kindergarten class. I use the term volunteer loosely because it was more an act of indentured servitude than one of service. With my wife serving as the class mom, my role was premeditated, predetermined, and served without my consultation or consent. (But it was really fun!)
As someone who has been described on more than one occasion as "slightly OCD," I struggled with the cacophony of color, sight, and sounds that is kindergarten. Elementary educators call it a "print-rich environment," but to me it looks like a Scholastic Books catalog threw up on all possible surfaces!
I was unprepared for the chaos that is elementary school. As a high school music educator for my entire teaching career, I was used to structure, order, silence, a classroom environment free of potty breaks, and potty humor. Well, okay, that last part isn't entirely true.
Don't get me wrong... there was structure and order, but it was in the midst of it all, it was hard to see and decipher. It's like trying to find a melody in an Ives composition, it's there... But very difficult to find and even harder to understand.
Honestly, kindergarten amazes me. Kids start school knowing almost nothing. They can deal with their basic needs, but as far as the world at large, they are a far cry from even survival level. An then, in the span of a few short months they transform into little people who are independent, confident, and wanting to do more! I am shocked by how much my child has learned in six short months: reading, writing, math, and vocabulary, with a sprinkling of music, computers, P.E., and library time, AND HE IS ONLY IN HIS FIRST YEAR OF GRADE SCHOOL. Kindergarten has definitely prepared him to learn.
I feel the same about you. Musically speaking, students came to you illiterate, uneducated, and unable to make sense of even the basics of music. They couldn't recognize a phrase or know what good tone was. They couldn't balance, blend, or understand the concept of flat and sharp (I know... You are still working on this one). They were the musical version of pre-schoolers and within a very short period of time you changed all of that.
You taught them to read. You taught them to play. You taught them to listen. You taught them how to site read and breathe. You taught them to take direction. You taught them to follow and lead. You taught them to think and feel differently tan they had before. You taught them to serve and sacrifice for others and the greater good.
I know that the days can be long and the weekends short. I know that at times the kids can be difficult and the parents unforgiving. Through it all, know that without you your students would be significantly less prepared for the world.
As music teachers we hope that our students will love music as we do, but understand that the benchmark of our success is creating great people in addition to great music.The HOW we teach might be just as important as the WHAT. That's one of the many reasons why music and YOU matter.
Yes, kindergarten has prepared my son to learn, but music will prepare him for life!
Have a great week!