Day 14: Lessons from our Music Teacher

I remember watching my own children’s fascination when they heard live music for the first time.  They were awestruck by the sounds that emanated from objects. The ability to make, understand and teach music astounds me. I feel like a three-year-old watching musicians play. Music is magic and something that is entirely out of my reach.

Our music teacher visits my fifth graders once a week. I worry she’ll lose patience with the ragtag bunch. She doesn’t. She has faith in them and the power of music.

Yesterday, she said, “I’ve noticed when I teach you something new, you guys get kinda out of control.”

What a profound observation. I don’t always see that phenomenon in the moment of teaching, but it is clear as day when I watch her instruct. The discomfort in learning can produce divergent behavior. That feeling of, I’m not any good. Or I’ll never get it. Show up in different ways. We all have those moments.  Some are more susceptible to it.

I have some kiddos who let you know how they’re feeling. You can’t miss them. The real problem comes from the ones that pretend they are doing.

Yesterday in music, I noticed Jeffery*. He was holding his guitar. His hands were in the right position. But they weren’t doing. He just sat. Still. Waiting patiently as others played.

What was going through his head as he sat waiting for the song to end?  I looked around the room. The majority seemed like they were doing it. Strumming, moving their fingers back and forth on the neck of their guitars. Many kids were approximating. They didn’t have it, they fumbled here and there, but they were trying while Jeffery sat.

Watching this lesson and Jeffery, I couldn’t help but think about the reading lives of my students. For some reading is a magical thing. While others look at books the way, Jeffery handles a guitar. They sit quietly turning the pages waiting for time to pass. They fly under the radar. Hoping not to be found. They haven’t found a book, yet. I have a group of kiddos that fit this description. We keep looking for that  I-love-this-book book. One that they will remember.

At the end of the lesson, Jeffery sat in his chair holding his guitar while the others lined up to leave. The music teacher walks up to him and patiently instructs him. In this private moment, he tries. Bravo Jeffery.

Yesterday I learned lessons alongside Jeffery. About patience, believing in my students and the magic of the music.

Thank you, Two Writing Teachers and the Slicer community for the March Slice of Life Challenge. Read more slices here.