“Mrs. Morris Said So!”

A parent stopped me in the hall this morning. ”Our family had an interesting conversation about you at our house last night.” My first thought was, “Oh dear. What did I say?”

Her daughter, a first grader, was sharing all the things she wanted to be when she grows up. Her older brother chimed in, saying she would have to choose. She could not be all those things. Her response? ”Yes, I can! Mrs. Morris said so!”

As the mom and I continued to talk, I remembered an impromptu conversation from her daughter’s class the day before. At the end of class, we watched the Wintergatan Marble Machine video. Students love this video, and so do I! It sparks imagination and encourages great discussions. https://youtu.be/IvUU8joBb1Q

After students watch the video for the first time, I ask the following questions. Do you think the marble machine creator is a musician? An engineer? A builder? A mathematician? The answer is always yes! This leads to conversations about what students want to be when they grow up. I love to encourage the idea that they don’t have to be just one thing.

On this particular day, I mentioned that I had not always been a music teacher. Being curious little beings, several began to ask about my other jobs. So, I shared my list. I have worked as a piano teacher, staff accompanist, college instructor, paraprofessional, special education teacher, and currently an elementary music teacher.

Apparently, this one little girl took our conversation to heart. At home, after declaring, “Mrs. Morris said so!” she continued with “Mrs. Morris has been at least five or six different things.” Then she proceeded to share my list with her family. She really was listening!

Her mom and I had a good laugh. Our conversation ended on an encouraging note. “The kids just love you.” Her kind words started my day with a smile.

I’m thankful what stuck with her daughter was not, “Mrs. Morris was grumpy today.” Some days that is true. And I also learned an important lesson. Evidently “Mrs. Morris said so!” carries a lot more clout coming from a self-confident first-grader than from a grumpy Mrs. Morris. 😉

…if we do not give up

Not the phrase I wanted to read this morning. I would have preferred “be encouraged” “change is coming your way” or “just a while longer.”

My attitude was terrible. I was tired and grumpy. It’s been a rough week, and the report I received about students being disrespectful on the day I was absent did not help. I certainly was not ready to greet my students.

Well aware that I needed an attitude adjustment, I decided to read the verse of the day on my bible app. Surely, there would be an encouraging verse to help turn my morning around. After all, isn’t that the purpose? 😉

The first words read were familiar. “Let us not grow weary in doing good…” Hmm…maybe I am doing good as a wife, mom, friend, and music teacher. On the other hand, am I? Lately, I am weary. Causing me to question everything. Then I read the rest of the verse.

“…for in due season, we will reap, if we do not give up.”

Suddenly, I could only see that last phrase. It was as if I’d never read those words before. Screaming at me in all caps with bold letters.

“…IF WE DO NOT GIVE UP.”

So, even if I’m weary, questioning, having a rough week…it is not time to give up.

How do I respond? First, it’s the weekend so I rest. Create a good plan for the coming week. Read that daily verse, the whole verse. Read it daily, not just when I’m in a bad mood. Work on taking better care of myself.

One more thing. Hold on to the tiny moments. Here is one from this week.

Not my best teaching day. Feeling a little discouraged. First graders are lining up to leave music. One sweet little girl hugs me and says, “Mrs. Morris, you’re the best music teacher in the whole world.”

I may not have agreed with her at that moment, but her words reminded me that teaching is a “good” work. And it’s harvest is the future…if we do not give up.

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for in due season, we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

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…

More Than Just a Band Concert

My husband and I recently attended our last winter concert as band parents. Our youngest son, a tuba player, is a senior. If not careful, my emotions can quickly take over during events like this. The powerful music, memories of concerts past and of faithfully attending family members who are no longer with us create a perfect recipe for tears.

The band program has been an integral part of our family life for many years. Great memories. So many expressions of support and encouragement. Sibling to sibling, parent to child, grandparent to grandchild-a beautiful circle of family love and support. With an added bonus of experiencing amazing music. (Not to mention the after-concert dessert. That may be the part I’ll miss the most.) 

Of course, some “mom” traditions accompany these events. Pre-concert photos, often by the Christmas tree, for starters. Due to a musical rehearsal after school, I was not home to get that picture this year. Instead, I was meeting our son for a quick dinner before the concert.

As he climbed out of his car, looking so handsome in his tuxedo, I said, “Oh no. I wish I’d thought to have Rachel take your…”. Before I could finish my sentence, he said, “It’s ok, Mom. Rachel took a picture. She knew you’d want one.” I managed not to burst into tears, so proud that my kiddos recognize the importance of these little things.


                                     Winter band concert 2018

Sitting in those performing arts center seats once again, like so many times before, I was overcome with a sense of gratitude for this experience in our kids’ lives. Involvement in these groups grounded them, gave them a place to belong, and taught them a life-long skill. Responsibility, creativity, discipline-to name a few of the strengths gained. And all of this in the setting of a public-school music program.

While listening to beautiful music, I noticed the number of students on stage. All of these individuals, capable of making a lovely sound on their own. Yet working together, their parts intertwined, created magic. And all the magic held together by an amazing teacher/director standing in front of them.

Although I know time must keep moving, and a new season is approaching, it’s difficult to imagine a school year without such events. I’m looking forward to discovering what new things we will celebrate and encourage as parents. But I will always remember our years attending concerts with joy, thankfulness, and appreciation for the power of music. Looking back with the understanding that if you look closely enough, you realize each event was much more than just a band concert.