The past four weeks have been quite difficult for me. I had to take a significant amount of time away from my day job as a middle school music teacher to care for my father. I’m sure I’ll have more to say about that as I continue to cope with losing him. However with all that has happened, my students remind me (yet again) why I am a teacher, by creating this message for me.
They did manage to include music we have been studying and a song I made them research earlier in the school year. Great way of connecting our curriculum. Nice job Soundview Class of 2017.
It’s the middle of summer, my kid is watching cartoons while I look at my units of study for the up coming school year. Since I am a middle school band director, I tend to worry about how effectively I am helping students learn specific skills on their instruments and the other parts of music, like music theory and music history. Never mind connecting them to other subjects studies at out school and finding ways to stay in touch with anything current and relevant to middle school kids, while thinking about making global connections to all we do.
Just for fun (or because I’m a glutton for punishment) we will be tackling intro to music theory, the Romantic era of music history, beginning conducting and beginning composition.
And yes, this will be the work 6th, 7th and 8th graders will explore with me. Should be a fun school year, so why am I worried about it in July?
If I ever need reminding about the struggle of being a band director and why it’s important to do what I do, Wynton Marsalis sums it up in this talk. All of it applicable to those who learn and those who teach.
Generally I go to BuzzFeed to laugh at something or checkout something related to music. Then they hit me with a video about kids of asian parents thanking them for the sacrifices they made for them. I couldn’t help but to think of my parents and grandparents.
The bit about students loans hit me the hardest. My mom and dad said the same thing to me.
While I recognize the changes that occur in my life around the month of September are major shifts, I can’t help the feeling of running head first into the truth….. that I am an adult. Maintaining stability in two art based professions while dealing with parental and husbandly duties, is a total shift from the summer schedule of stay at home dad while checking off items listed on my “honey do/due list”.
Having met my “honey do” goals, and satisfied the unicorn adventures with my kid. I now feel the focus of the other parts of my existence starting to flower. At home I get to watch football. As a teacher I go back to my favorite cup to sip coffee out of and listen to copious amounts of Beethoven for our Romantic Music Unit. Finally there is the constant wonderment on seeing the stars.
Finding those little moments within my work and home duties, seems to be the fun at this point. Almost like stealing a single serving point of personal enjoyment while being an adult.
Now and again my kid does something that makes me glad to me a parent. At my kids school, students are learning about gardening, which means we are learning about gardening.
I may be at fault for planting the seed for gardening in my kids heart. (Pun totally intended) Last summer we had the opportunity to grow basil at our home. We planned activities around watering our basil. Go food shopping then water the basil. And if you didn’t know, watering a plant with a 4 year old is serious business.
Given all that has been good about the experience, I must confess… it’s getting a little out of hand. We got more stuff than I know what to do with in our town home. Herbs, lettuces, peas, corn…if they have seeds for it in her classroom, we got it at home. Guess we will just need to eat more, learn more about urban gardening and become better cooks.
Pictures taken at the Soundview School
I was blown away by two statements made by middle school students I teach. The first made me wonder about the way independent thought is formed and the other is just an impressive thought I want to share.
- “Footsteps and echoes of the environment demand to be heard through something. That something is music.”
- “Chapstick is just deodorant for your lips!”
I love both of these statements.