Thursday: the almost-weekend day. Except today. No school on Friday means Thursday is Friday, and if Thursday is Friday, then everyone has “long weekend” on the brain.
At 8:45 this morning, I walked into my first 5th-grade band class. What am I teaching today? Oh yeah, review a few exercises and Hot Cross Buns, then maybe move on to a new note. Okay, just get through this. I took out my baton (yes I am learning to use a baton!), and opened my conductor score – the massive book that I could use to reach a light bulb or press flowers.
“Alright guys, long tones for warm ups – E-flat flutes and trombones, F clarinets and trumpets. Instruments UP. And One, Two, Three, Four …”
Huh, that was almost in tune. Cool.
“Good job guys! Now the next new note – F flutes and Trombones, G clarinets and trumpets.”
“But Ms. Lillis, we learned these notes last class.”
“I know – that’s why we are using them to warm up. Ready and ONe, TwO, THRee, (breathe)”
Wow, again … almost in tune. This is really cool.
“Okay guys, turn to number 16 – Hot Cross Buns. Instruments UP. And one, two ….”
Amazing! They’re playing in time! And getting the right notes (most of them)!
We moved through the next five songs within fifteen minutes. It was as if someone had put magic music powder in all of their breakfasts. They looked like a band! Even better, they were starting to SOUND like a band! They sight-read “Merrily We Roll Along” and I did a little joy-jig at the front of the room. They looked at me with wide eyes. Is she crazy? I just beamed back at them.
“You know guys, there is no greater joy for a teacher than to see kids go from ‘Ack!’ to ‘Ahhh!’ (Here I did a silly face and a happy face to demonstrate the point.) A few weeks ago you guys couldn’t even hold your instruments and now you are sight-reading new notes! You know what that tells me? That you’re practicing. AND you’re improving. And that makes ME really happy.”
They grinned sheepishly back at me. We rested our lips for a few minutes, talked about flat and natural signs, discovered our first fermata, and then went back to sight reading.
At 9:30, I walked out thinking, How awesome. It was probably a lucky morning though. The second 5th grade band at 2:30 probably won’t be as sharp. How could they be at 2:30 before a long weekend? But no. They got me doing my second joy-jig of the day. Who has that magic music powder anyway? Can we use it on my middle school choir? Here’s hoping for more joy-jig Thursdays.