Two hours every week are spent with five third graders. On my schedule it says I’m supposed to teach them music.
Have I taught music before? Sure! Apart from many individual violin classes, I explored the realm of sound for about 6 years with a previous generation in our school.
We sang long notes and assigned colors to them. We studied repertoire from many inspired music sources in the world. We gave concerts and formed a very nice choir.
Looking back, that one seems easy to me now.
By comparison this one is more difficult.
By comparison? Beware! Never compare!
Why not Sir?
Because by comparing you lose touch with the ability to explore the unique potential of the children that are with you RIGHT NOW!
Thank you Sir.
There we are then, this group, these children…The very thought of not making comparisons already relaxes my heart a little, making it more open and childlike in trying to perceive the music that is waiting to expand in those young minds and bodies.
So…we play the violin together…not bad, many good moments of developing motor skills and sound sensitivity…
Why are some going so much more slowly than others?
Yes, I know Sir, don’t compare.
So, little Mario seems to be in his own world and doesn’t respond when I call him. In fact me calling him signifies an unwelcome intrusion in his private business.
Not really, because I’ve got an idea!
Mario washes the dishes and he does so with remarkable care and calmness.
Then it’s time for composing music.
Composing music? Are you crazy?
Well, this thought from the teachers manual keeps ringing in my mind, always, when I am with children. It says:
Efl teachers find more satisfaction in empowering children to accomplish things than in accomplishing things themselves.
So, Mario, sits at the piano and his job is to find a melody with the white keys, beginning and ending with the central c-key.
I observe him, listen and then try to play for him what I’ve heard, adding some timbre to his melody and a left hand accompaniment.
-Is that what you meant? I play it slowly.
Yes! He sits on my lap and has his hand on my hand that delicately touches the keys.
-What would you like to call it?
I write down the notes for him, then ask him to copy it and glue it on a sheet of white paper where he can make a drawing around it am
and write his name and the title of the composition on it.
My plan is to teach him to sing the melody with the names of the notes and subsequently to find lyrics for this melody, which is quite special, in all its simplicity.
Then it’s Annabel’s turn. With her I have to contain my tendency to intervene with suggestions. She is not satisfied and keeps seeking.
-Do you mean this, Annabel?
And she continues her exploration.
Finally I get to write down what’s she’s come up with.
But as she starts copying the notes she asks me to make a change.
-Can you please not write long notes? I want a merry song!
Empower her Darshan, don’t impose your own love of long notes!
A slow four quarter beat becomes a faster three quarter beat and Annabel has her song. After she’s finished writing the notes, she starts her drawing.
-How about a title?
-I don’t know!
I start making suggestions:
-The merry-go-round…the dance of the goblins…the party of the elves…
None of these satisfy her
I suggest that she ask for a title that night, before falling asleep.
-It might come to you in a dream!
She looks at me with a healthy dose of reserve, like saying: I might try, but it will be following the will within me, not your will.
And then school is over.