Monday, August 23, 2010

At Times Like This...

Well, here we are. We are back to work after a summer of unrest. Many of our school districts went through major budget cuts and faced tough decisions. We have fought for and are possibly still fighting for referendums. We also are looking at the possibility of losing collective bargaining and going to a salary that is unbelievable. So here we are. What do we do?
The answer is simple, WE TEACH! We do what we love and have been trained to do. We show our communities that what we do is valuable and adds much more to these students’ lives than many of them will ever know.
It is as if in the past few years we seem to sit at a crossroad. We always seem to be faced with a new obstacle every year and it seems like it will never end. Yes, teaching in this state will not be the same. It will be very different from the past and may never return. However, every time we have seen these changes we have overcome. Why? It is because we all share the basic fundamental belief in making a difference in children’s lives and in the power of music. I am sure each of us can name that one teacher that changed us. I can remember that I wanted to be a pastor, but then I met my middle school band director, Jon Milleman (He is currently the Principal at Hamilton Southeastern High School). I fell in love with music. I had always loved it, but now it was different. I had a passion for it. I knew that I wanted to create music as a teacher with children. Who would have guessed that I would change from band to choir and then choose elementary music and children’s choir? I did, and I know I have found what I love to do most.
I am sure you also have a story. A story that gives you the drive each day to do what you do. Don’t lose sight of that and why we are here. No matter what happens in these coming months, what you do each day is priceless! Keep up the great work! Keep promoting what we do in our school by talking to administration, parents, and the community. But most importantly, know that you are not in this alone, because we are all in this together!
Have a great school year!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Have you seen it??

Have you seen it?
Alright, maybe I am showing how young I am, but I have become one of the millions that is now watching the new Fox show Glee. If you have not seen it, tune in and you will be entertained. It is about a Spanish teacher, a former glee club singer, who organizes a glee club in the school where he is currently teaching. Each episode is filled with the troubles of high school and being in the glee club. However, I am not writing to get you to watch the show. I am writing because when I watch it I see energy and a passion that at times I don’t see in my own music class and sometimes choirs.
So where does it come from? Is it the music? Is it the movement? Is it the teacher and the singers?
I think that it is a combination of all of them. A few years ago in one of the teaching journals, there was an article written about popular music and how too often we as teachers don’t use it because it is “not classical.” However, it is part of our culture and if you look hard enough, there is some wonderful material in them!
I think that sometimes we see where we want to end, instead of where we need to begin. Not in technical teaching, but in interest. You would never take a person who has only listened to punk rock all of their lives and sit him down to listen to a Bach Cantata. No, instead you would find something that would be a step in the classical direction and appeal to that person.
So why do we pick music that singers would not sing outside of choir? Why not begin with things they enjoy and then work them into a new world of music.
Now let’s look at the issue of movement. So, should we all become a show choir or glee club? No! However, we need to teach our singers how to use their body to show expression and to feel the music. When you watch a small child listens to a piece of music, or better, sing a song. He or she moves. Not choreographed movement, but their body is not riggid and their head does not bob back and forth. Instead you see the music in them. Why not our choirs? Why not help them keep that natural feeling of music. Instead out society takes it out. Go watch people at a pop, rock, or country singer’s concert. The audience is not seated listening. Instead they are moving and feeling the music. So how to we get our singers to feel the msuic?
And then there is the teacher and the singers. Last night I was talking with the choir and I said we do what we do to share our love and our passion. We do this to perform! Otherwise, why work so hard for so many hours. Yes, the learning is great, but the thrill of singing in front of the audience is… well…”priceless!” So, we need to keep that alive in ourselves and our students.
After reading this, I see I have posed more questions than answers, but that is why we are here! To share our thoughts and ideas!
Here’s to a new conversation.
P.S. Go watch Glee season two and we will see you at the IMEA convention!