This is for all the music teachers who have endured a “bad day,” especially at the start of the school year. I have been teaching music for young children for more than twenty years, and those days still happen to me.
One of them was today. But upon reflection, most of it wasn’t that “bad.” On balance, it had more wonderful moments. But it was one of those days that made me want to write to my children’s music forum (sponsored by the wonderful Children’s Music Network) and ask, “How the heck do I handle this?”
Now, I happen to have written about how to handle it. On this blog. You can read it here. That doesn’t mean I’m 100 percent in control all the time. Today … I give myself about a 70 percent.
Over my years as an itinerant early childhood music teacher, I’ve often taught classes at a preschool near me. It’s a lovely, small program, run by a veteran lead teacher who partners with parent volunteers. The children seem to feel free to be themselves, unencumbered by unnecessary rules and Pre-K “academics.” All good.
The weekly music time is in a medium-sized room that’s sometimes used as a dance and yoga space for other building occupants. Flooring is rubber. For music/movement, this space is preferable to the classroom’s small circle area.
But today, a few children just couldn’t resist taking over the space – running, running, running. Not listening. Not sitting where or when they were asked to sit. This bedlam was punctuated by the girl who insisted on bringing her “lovey” that plays a ding-dong tune. You know the kind.
“I’ve got this.” I know that’s what some of my friends in CMN would say. They know who they are. I was tempted to write some of them directly. But actually, once I started to deconstruct my music time, I realized, “I’ve got this, too.”
As I reflected, I went back over what worked during my 30 minutes of music time with the children. They mostly kept their feet “glued” to the floor during the opening stretch. They sat still for the “Icky Sticky and Ooey Gooey” song with spoon puppets. They had a great time with my song, “If I Were a Butterfly,” using scarves. In this song, the children mostly bop around the room. (In a class at a different school today, a child “butterflied” into the piano bench, resulting in a bruise that required an “incident report.” Yikes!) In the middle of the butterfly song, children get on the floor to be the caterpillar and chrysalis. We have about 30 seconds of waiting time in the chrysalis. Then they bop around again.
All of this was good (leaving aside the butterfly injury). So I guess what I’m telling myself is to give myself a break. A few children couldn’t manage cooperation during the entire 30 minutes in the room. It looks “medium sized” to me, but must look huge to them. They’re three! Why not run free? They weren’t tired enough to settle down after ten minutes in butterfly mode, but hey, they were due to go out to play.
That’s what I’m telling myself, this lovely September Thursday. I’m happy that I get to go to “happy hour” later with friends.