Monday, January 12, 2015

Incoming 1/12+Thoughts on being a music teacher

   I got 2 nice postcrossing cards today and sent out letters/cards to Iowa, Illinois (2), and South Africa. I feel good about the progress I'm making with the writing but great about creating any art. So, I'm taking tonight to play around with my art journal. I should be cleaning... really. Maybe I'll do both.
     I didn't take pictures of the letters since they were all in average envelopes. (Maybe this is how I can get the creative groove back- making more envelopes!)
     Here are my 2 cards.
     I really like this card from France. The sender is a farmer. I wonder if farming in France is as challenging as here in the US.
   This was a cute card from New York. David giggled when I showed it to him.

The 366 Project:
Sent: 17
Received: 5

       Many of the people who read my blog know that I'm a music teacher as a profession. I teach music class to all of the students in the school and then chorus for all of the students who sign up. Other than some scheduling hassles and normal teaching complaints, I really love my job. I work hard every day and have tons of preparation to do outside of school. I never work just 8-2 and no, I don't have every summer off. Yes, it's "fun" but that doesn't mean that it's silly and that I have no expectations for anyone- or myself. I'm also highly trained and "have gone to school for that." Yes, I'm a "real teacher" even if people you have spoken to in education don't call me that.
     Tomorrow I have the 1st concert of the year with my larger choruses. Normally I do this concert with another colleague but their position got switched so it's me on my own this time. I'm a little nervous about it, mainly because I will be conducting and playing for 1 group while 2 groups are sitting. Honestly, many of my students respect me quite a bit and know the line between time to goof around/ sitting in front of an audience ready to perform. This is the 1st performance for my 5th graders though so they are the ones that would need the reminders.
      Some of you have asked me before to tell you a little more about my teaching so I figured I'd chat tonight about what it takes to prepare for a concert.
    This year, I have 3 choruses that will perform in the concert. The school schedule has them rehearsing with me once during a 4 day cycle. Their class is 23 minutes long. Yeah, that's not a typo. Luckily for my 7th/8th grade chorus, the 4th day of the cycle I can have a sectional (rehearsal with one voice part rather than the whole chorus) so they get to see me a little more. They have been working with me since the beginning of this school year (end of August) to perform in this concert.
     In my head, here's what's going on tonight-
-Is the piano that is left for me to use in tune?
-Will the risers be set up like I requested or will I have to set up 5 giant sets of risers by myself in front of 183 kids and a bunch of parents while wearing formal wear?
-What happens if something unexpected happens off stage while I'm conducting one group and I have to deal with it? I once had to break up the beginning of a fist fight between 2 dads over concert etiquette. Seriously.
- The 5th graders are going to forget their words. Due to "special things" happening before vacation, my last rehearsal before vacation was wrecked. This past rehearsal had 19 kids missing. I'll be lucky if they show up. I'm hoping the concert won't be a negative experience for the ones who are nervous about the words.
- How does this new group of 5th graders perform under pressure?
- Any parents who are upset with me that I will see at the concert?
- Will I be able to hear my small 6th grade chorus?
- Can I trust the 7th/8th graders to be an extra set of eyes (or 130 eyes really) with the younger kids while I'm working with other groups?
- Will an administrator make it to my concert? 1 out of the past 24 concerts. Seriously. I have 25% of the school singing tomorrow night.
- Will all of the kids have someone watching them at the concert? Do they all have rides home? Do they all have concert dress? (More like- is there any kid who will feel like they can't come because their parents won't/can't buy them a white dress shirt and black pants?)
-Print program. Print attendance. Bring concert clothes and shoes. Bring breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- I'm really proud of the work these kids have done. They are really nice kids, hard workers. I would love for them to have a successful concert that really goes well for them but if it doesn't go as well as some of their rehearsals, I'm okay with that.. unless it went badly because they were unfocused and fooling around. In that case they are in trouble, big trouble.

In the head of my students, here's what I feel is going on tonight-
5th grade- Gotta be there at 6:15, gotta be there at 6:15. Mrs. B says not to be late. I don't know these words yet. What if I'm sick? Do I still need to go if I'm sick? Maybe I just won't go. There's a bunch of us, maybe she won't notice. This is scary. It will be cool to sing in a big auditorium. I hope I don't get the stomach bug that's going around 5th grade.

6th grade- Why did they schedule basketball pictures 30 minutes before the concert? Can I get there on time? Ooh, I better not be late, Mrs. B gets wicked mad if people are late. Will they be able to hear us this year? It's a small group.  I really like the songs this year but there are too many words in the middle song. I wonder if my teachers will come.

7th/8th Grade- Okay, get there before Mrs. B said to. I can't wait to show the parents and younger kids what we've been working on. Note to self- don't misbehave. Not to the 3 back row altos- she's talking to you when she tells people to be quiet.  Be a good role model. Watch the younger kids. Wear shoes I won't fall down the stairs in. No really short skirts.  Seriously, do I have to wear a tie? Well, if I wear a tie I'll look pretty awesome. Plus, those 5th grade guys are going to dress up and I don't want them to look more classy than I do. More basketball pictures? Ugh, alright... get to the concert early, I'll change in the car on the way there. What if we mess up? Hope we don't disappoint Mrs. B. How much homework do we have to do after the concert?

    I wish I could put a picture up that would show you what 1 teacher vs 183 students looks like. I'm sure everything will go well but I have to think through everything. I'll update after the concert. If your children are musicians, talk to them about their concerts. If they did horribly, it's okay to ask them what happened (with tact), most of the time they know it went badly. If you don't know what to talk about, ask them what they think went well or what they could've done better. Ask which song is their favorite. Ask them why they like singing in a choir or who their favorite person to sing with is.
     If you want to be kind to a music teacher, say thanks. We all work hard. We don't always want a ton of recognition but we always appreciate a thank you. (Presents are good too. Ha ha) There is nothing worse than a parent coming to yell at you or talk about a problem (unless it directly has to do with the concert) in front of an entire audience of people. It's awkward to explain why your child didn't get the solo in front of all of the other parents, especially if you're telling me why the other kids stunk- usually in front of their parents. Please don't do that- even if the teacher is not your cup of tea. I also like actually knowing who the families I work with are, so feel free to introduce yourself just to put a name with a face. If you really want brownie points, ask if there's anything to do to clean up after the concert.

     What profession do you work in?

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