Monday, March 1, 2010

cover your ears

An open letter to my co-worker....

Dear M

I feel an apology is in order here. It's been a long week and I realize I am partially responsible. I've seen that familiar wince on your face a few times since I started my new project with the kids, and I know you are being as patient as you can be, Please bear with me, with all of us.

You see, I honestly forget that there are people who think of music and singing as noise. I've never been one of those people. I sang all the time when I was little, heck, I sing all the time now. Music is this huge part of my life, and without it, without the words and music and instruments and songs I love, I would probably lose my mind.

My mom doesn't get music either. She certainly doesn't understand why anyone would want to learn an instrument. She's as tone deaf as they come - when I was in high school and practicing diligently at the piano she would walk into the living room and start talking away to me...and I would keep going until she looked at me with an irritated little frown and said "Please, could you just stop that for a few minutes?"

But it's been a couple of decades since I've lived at home, and I've spent most of that time singing and playing to my heart's content.

I was a little bit shocked the other day when you told me that you didn't like singing. Who doesn't like singing?(my BIL exempted because he has synaesthesia, and sees colours when music is playing). You said, "Some people are singing people, and some people aren't. You're a singing person, and I'm not." I was shocked, but it all suddenly made sense...the sidelong glances you give me when I spontaneously burst into song while standing at the top of the snow hill, while the kids are busy digging forts and sledding. I don't need a reason to sing. I don't need a special occasion. My instrument is always present.

I sing less that I've ever done on the job. I long to go back to toddler care, where I can sing all day long and the little people just fall over themselves with joy whenever they hear a song.

So I have a very tiny bit of regret when I think about what I've unleashed upon you in the past week. I've been scheming for a long time, trying to find ways to bring more music into the program, We have talented kids, who have parents who pay for hockey and soccer, but who have less time, and less money for private music lessons. And any music taught in school is abysmal at best.

So I went out and bought a dozen of these

and started a music club at the after-school program. It has been a roaring success - I've had to buy more recorders, and the book room is filled with the sounds of diligent practice.

I've done this before. Twice before, in fact, I've volunteered my time in school to teach recorder to young kids who had no other musical education or exposure. It was an amazing success....and it will be this time as well. Trust me.

Of course, on the first day, I only taught them two notes and a basic rhythm. It does get a bit much, even for me.

But their faces! I love to watch them when they sit down to play, and I love knowing that they are learning so much, all because of a cheap instrument that I picked up at the dollar store. They play a bit sharp, but there are tonal differences, and for now, that's all that matters. It's accessible for everyone.

I promise that tomorrow I will teach them a  third note, and a song. It will open up a whole new world for them. I understand that it's been hard on you, and I thank you for not being negative about my pet project.

But I'm not sorry. Just cover your ears for now, and they'll all sound like pros within a month!


Kalisis Rising said...

OOOOH! How very cool! I'm so intrigued by this idea. Wow.

I am a singing person. I sing all the time (even if it's horribly out of tune or the rhythm is all wrong - I don't care) and my kids are also singing people. A social worker once told me that children who hum or sing spontaneously are deeply happy, organically within themselves. I don't know if it's true or not, but it makes me feel better about my mothering abilities and my situation and makes me think we're not in such dire straits as I often fear.

The year I lived abroad, I realized how very important music is. I spent the first month in Poland, in February no less, locked inside with no music at all (there were no laptops then, no ipods) and I about lost my mind. It was when I realized that I was missing an essential component to my life, music, and then proceeded to search out and buy a set of speakers for my discman (remember those?) that I was able to find joy and a way to cope with all the strange new things I was facing. It made a very deep, lasting impression on me and no matter where I am now, if I do not have access to music, it is one of my first purchases.

I am excited at this new project of yours and can't wait to hear about their progress and your joy in seeing it!

Eileen Pennington said...

even if i'm not singing out loud, i definitely have songs in my head.

keep up the great stuff with the kids!

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that you did that - good for you and even better for the kids!

I wish I had learned to play an instrument when I was younger but I am quite happy being an audience to some amazing talent.

We had a "music room" in the house I shared with my ex and this room was filled with great instruments (huge drum set, all kinds of guitars - heck, even a Sitar!). Whenever someone would come over we'd let them jam in the room. One time we had a bunch of workers who were repaving our driveway come up and play. Oh my goodness how they rocked!! I'll never forget that. It was totally worth the mess. :)

Go you!

Earth Muffin said...

Your recorder project sounds fantastic! My oldest son did "Recorder Karate" in his music class last year and was so proud of himself when he became a "black belt". We have tons of instruments in our house for the boys to experiment with and, yes, sometimes it's very noisy, but it's a good kind of noisy. We wouldn't have it any other way! Have fun with those kids!

Nulaanne said...

OMG I could not imagin my life without music. The radio is always on, I sing all the time. I do think it drives the people I work with crazy but they don't have to live in my head and without music I am dipressed.

What is most impressive is that this has given me a blog post that has bragging in it. My 18 year old son can play 3 insturments very well, and about 5 or 6 others.

Making Space said...

RockNRoll! Keep at it! Woohoo!

Camlin said...

I am having a ton of fun, and so are they. When I taught them their first song yesterday, it was amazing to see their faces light up. And today they will practice until I'm driven crazy - but it's all good, because they're engaged, and they're learning.