Monday, May 16, 2016

reflections night(s)

Reflections Night is our time to reflect on the music and art that we have been working on all year.  For me it is a thousand little errands and then a big show.  Are all the microphones in place?  Is all the music ready?  Are there enough chairs?  Do the 5th graders all know how to play their songs?  Does everyone know the words?  Are the instruments in tune?... there are a lot of questions.  After rushing around like crazy for 2 hours with a bad cold, trying to be as prepared as possible, I ran into the atrium of the school which doubles as a cafeteria and triples as a performance space.  The kids had set up the sound system and tested all the microphones.  The kids had set up all the chairs and printed all the lyrics to the songs they needed.  The kids had practiced the songs that needed to be practiced. The show went smoothly.  There were a few mistakes and a few moments when the sound system produced a very loud feedback noise that hurt everyone's ears.  I saw somebody in the audience holding their ears and making a frustrated face at the deafening sound and, while I completely understood why that was so bothersome, all I could feel about it was a great pride for what the kids had accomplished. I stopped feeling sick for a second and I asked the audience for a big round of applause for the tech crew.  I'm sure they were confused.  Why are we clapping for the people who are making our ears hurt?  I didn't explain it very well but that was my Reflections Night reflections moment.  I realized that what the kids have been working on all year is a sense of ownership over the music that they make.  These kids chose, learned and composed their own songs.  They set up their space for the show and they ran the sound system all by themselves.  They made a few mistakes but they did an unbelievably terrific job for their age and experience level. They put on a great great show. Every mistake was a learning moment and every success was truly earned.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Musical Mania

We are right in the middle of Musical-Mania and it is a big fat fiery ball of fun.  Both 1/2 classes and both 3/4 classes have written incredible musicals and are ready to start planning their performances.  This process has been such a blast.  The kids have composed compositions, choreographed choreography, plotted plots and rehearsed, um rehearsals.  These shows have unfolded in the most creative (and messiest) way possible.  Kids have stopped me on the way to the car yelling "Josh, I know what we have to do during the dance about the aliens" and burst into the music room during my lunch yelling "Josh, I know what costumes we can wear during the last song".  While I realize that I am doing a terrible job setting boundaries, I am very excited about these shows.  They are wild and crazy and full of surprises.  They don't follow any rules and the music is excellent.  They are completely owned by the kids and I think they are almost as excited as me.  We'll post info about dates soon.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Autonomy:
That's what I always say I am trying to teach the kids.  I think we are making some progress.   The Kindergarteners rejected my song ideas for better ones that they thought of themselves. The 1st and 2nd graders asked me to stop leading the drum circles because they all know how to lead without me.  The 3rd and 4th graders told me to stop singing along to all their songs because they sound better without me.  The 5th and 6th graders almost don't need my help composing anymore and the 7th and 8th graders are teaching each other arrangements of the songs they are composing and don't even need me to play in the band.  I know this is what I wanted but I have to say, I'm feeling a little left out.  I can't wait to start something new and feel needed again.