Determined

No pain, no gain
That’s a wrap
Show’s over
Saved the best for last

Hmmm…so many thoughts and emotions. Yesterday marked the final two performances for our all-school musical, Newsies. One matinee and one evening show brought all the hard work to an end. As I reflect over these past few months, in particular, the last two weeks, determination is the word I choose.

I watched as students on stage and in the pit showed determination. A determination to work harder each day. A determination to always give their best. A determination to share their hard work with gladness and grace.

They may not realize it, but their energy was contagious. It had a profound impact on me and my attitude, particularly on those days it felt like I had no energy left to give.

Some have asked, “Will you do it again next year?” Others have suggested, “Maybe it’s time to give this up.” Comments made with my best interest at heart, no doubt. It is an exhausting process which pushes me further than I think I can go. And each year, the physical challenge grows just a bit.

Yet, this year as I thought more about this thing-this musical season-I realized how much I love it! I can’t imagine not being a part. I don’t want to imagine…

Following one of the evening performances, a sweet colleague said, “You must be exhausted. But it has to be so worth it!” Yes! Simple truth. I’m certain she had no idea how much I needed to hear those words. My husband expressed the same sentiment, understanding how important this is to me. These combined with my daughter’s, “Proud of you, Mom” gave me the spark I needed to finish strong.

Hence the word, determined. As long as the opportunity is there and I am able to play with excellence, I am determined to be part of what is Union Public Schools All-School Musical. Even though it wears me thin, it is worth every ache and pain. Worth fighting for every ounce of energy required. Worth every afternoon nap. Worth every extra cup of coffee consumed. 😉

And so, I say, “Farewell Newsies!” It was a pleasure to make music with you all. Remember the lessons learned through this amazing story. I know I will! 🙂

#seizetheday #watchwhathappens #newsiesforever

Wiper Blade Swishes

A gray mist hung in the air all day today. More than simple fog, it appeared like a sheer curtain. As if you walked through it, you would come out on the other side soaking wet.

No individual clouds. No glimpses of blue. Not even a hint of sunshine. And believe me, I peeked outside between classes all day long…just in case.

Leaving school for the day, I noticed a light, wet film on my car windshield. One swish from the windshield wipers and it was gone. Wiper blades are an interesting invention. At first glance, they might seem insignificant in comparison with the entire car. But get caught in the rain without a working one, and you realize its power.

This one little swish of a wiper blade caused me to reflect on the day. Despite the feeling of heaviness due to the conditions outside, had there been other “wiper blade swishes” which helped make the day clearer? Of course!

  • Early morning Starbucks run with the Dream Team
  • 5th graders engaging over Beethoven and musical motifs
  • Kindergarteners playing Under the Sea & Just Keep Swimming with the parachute
  • Singing There’s a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea with 2nd grade
  • After school nap
  • My husband coming home early to cook dinner

So, where/how am I now? I’m sitting in the orchestra pit. 30 minutes until opening night of Newsies! Energized and ready to go. It’s going to be a great show, no doubt. I will crash when it’s done. Then do it all over again tomorrow, and the next day, and the day after that…twice.

Maybe the skies won’t be so gray-maybe they will. Either way, I’ll be watching for the little “wiper blade swishes” to help clear my path and get me through this incredibly exhausting and rewarding week.

Best of Both Worlds

From the beginning of November until early February, my life is a little crazy. It’s musical season! During this season, my usual teaching day is followed by a three to four-hour rehearsal. Extra long days and lots of coffee. 😉 ☕️

This year marks my fourth consecutive Union Public Schools all-school musical-Newsies! Each year I think, “I’m not sure I can do this again.” But each year I cannot say no. Time spent in my favorite place, behind the piano, while being part of something bigger than myself. Amazing students, colleagues, and music.

A couple of weeks ago, I asked several of our Newsies cast members if they’d be willing to perform for our elementary school students. My team was planning a Responsibility assembly, and these students were the perfect guests. After all, their success depends on being responsible.

Today was assembly day. These three were rock stars! They spoke with enthusiasm and animation. They performed their songs beautifully. Despite beyond full schedules, they were willing to spend quality time with younger students.

For me, today brought the best of both worlds. Students I teach every day heard from students I’m privileged to work with during the musical season. Elementary students got a glimpse of what’s possible when they choose hard work and responsibility. High school students remembered their younger years and realized how far they’ve come.

And I witnessed it all from behind that piano. Doesn’t get much better…

Much-Needed Spark

”Rough morning, Mrs. Morris?” Sobering words from a 5th-grade student to begin my day. It’s one thing for a colleague or family member to notice-but a student? I was honest. ”Yes, yes it has been, ” I smiled, a tad embarrassed.

Truthfully, I’m running on fumes. My eyes certainly gave it away. (Maybe I should have applied a little more makeup this morning.) My dragging feet also gave clues to my state of being.

So, today I say, ”Thank goodness for 5th graders!” Today anyway. 😉 First of all, one of them noticed and acknowledged I have bad days too. And that’s ok. Second, 5th grade rocked music!

This group of almost middle schoolers entered my room excited, ready to participate! It was an amazing hour of music-making. And we have audio to prove it.

In addition to the awesome 5th graders this morning, some precious moments also occurred in the afternoon.

Looking around my classroom a sweet little girl commented,” I get why you call this music class. You’re always letting us do everything music. And reading us awesome stories.” Another chimed in, ”Yeah, plus she really likes music.” Like, duh.

Lest you think it was a fairytale day in Mrs. Morris’s music class, I would score both the morning and afternoon classes success rate at 2 out of 3. And you know what the song says….that ain’t bad.

Will I still look tired tomorrow? Yes. Will my feet continue to drag? Most likely. I’m afraid it’s just that season.

Today’s reminders. Kids are aware of those around them. Sometimes they act on and voice that awareness. When they do, I need to watch and listen. I also need to be more aware of those around me-kids and adults. Giving voice to someone else’s ”bad day” might encourage them.

My actions and words have the power to provide what was provided to me today…a much-needed spark.

Friday Confessions of a Music Teacher

For teachers, Fridays create an interesting contradiction. The day begins with an air of excitement. Yay! It’s Friday! We made it! The weekend is in our sights, and that means rest and regroup.

So, where’s the problem? We still have one whole day ahead of us to teach. And for me personally, that second half of a Friday is one of the most difficult parts of my week.

This week was no exception. Three forty-five-minute classes filled with rhymes, body percussion, singing, and playing instruments made the morning fly by. On my feet-singing, clapping, snapping, scanning the room. Making sure everyone is engaged. It was exhausting! I’m not complaining here, just stating a fact. 😉

Next came lunchtime. Always a welcomed break. Visiting with my team, laughing while we ate. But right as the break is about to end, I suddenly found myself lacking the motivation to finish strong.

The afternoon brings kindergarten, 1st and 2nd graders. They require a much different level of energy when compared to my morning classes. In addition to the usual music activities, I now have to be a convincing puppeteer, tie shoes, and remind them to keep their hands out of their mouths and off of their neighbors.

Gotta love puppets!

Confession time. Today I was tempted to scrap my afternoon plans and take the easy way out. Surely there was an appropriate music activity we could do which would require less energy from me. After all, it was Friday.

But then the thought hit me-these little ones deserve the same energy I gave my morning classes.

I’m happy to say I did not give in to the temptation. And I’m so glad. We marched around the room while reviewing tempo terms, listened to a Freddie the Frog story, and played instruments. Instruments! Little hands echoing rhythmic patterns on xylophones and metallophones. They were making music, and their smiles made it all worthwhile.

Freddie the Frog

Most certainly I will face this dilemma again. It’s part of being a teacher. If I’m being honest, there will be at least one “change of plans” day before the school year ends. My goal, however, is to remember today and the positives which resulted from pushing through. And when I feel this way again, allow those memories to help me once again finish strong.

Merry Christmas From A Tired Music Teacher

For teachers, Christmas break feels like it will never arrive. Those last few weeks are crazy! Students are restless, teachers are feeling the pull between home and school. Searching for time to decorate, shop, make travel plans…one can start to feel overwhelmed.

This year proved no different. Our final day before break started with leading the choir in some hallway caroling. Then my teammates and I assisted with parties in the gym. And although it was fun, we were on our feet all day.

Exhausted, but relieved break was finally here, I drug my tired body home. I could barely move. At home, I shuffled from couch to bed to couch and finally to bed for the night. The best part? No alarm!

The next morning was awesome. First coffee, a snack, and catching up on the morning news. And next? A nap, of course! Mornings like that are a luxury.

Once I was out of bed for good, Christmas music was on my mind. “Charlie Brown Christmas” was my first choice. I pressed play and started getting ready for the day.

Hair still wet, no makeup on, I suddenly had an urge to play the piano instead of just listening. Christmas carols, of course. The thought of recording songs to share had been in the back of my mind the past couple of weeks.

My initial plan was to go buy a book of fancy arrangements. But on this first day of break, I suddenly changed my mind. Upstairs looking through an old hymnal, I decided to simply play some of my favorites.

And that’s what I did-played these beautiful carols, adding a little of my own style. Nothing fancy, just honest and peaceful music.

My offering may not be extravagant, but that’s ok. It’s from me…from my hands…from my heart. The heart of a tired, yet grateful, music teacher.

Merry Christmas! Hope you enjoy!

Special thanks to my husband, Gart, for getting me set-up, giving me a refresher course on using garage band, and being my editor-in-chief. ❤️


Away In A Manger
Carols Sing
Infant Holy, Infant Lowly

O Little Town of Bethlehem
Silent Night
The First Noel