Are They Listening?

Most teachers have moments of wondering-are they hearing anything I’m saying? Sometimes it is difficult to know. I want to believe our students remember more than we think they do. Especially the things that are most important.

My attitude has not been great this week. Several reasons that really don’t matter. But I could have easily been described as tired, grumpy, and irritable on several occasions. Today there were a couple of sparks that helped change all of that.

First, if you’ve never heard First or Second graders sing, it is precious. Their voices are pure and sweet. Today, they were learning about how music notes are placed on lines. And how they could learn to read those notes. Specifically, sol and mi.

Each song we learned was a different combination of those two tones. In one of the activities, I would sing a pattern, they would echo. The fun came when we sang along with an accompaniment.

They sounded so sweet! I was trying to express how happy it made me hearing them sing. One little First-grader raised their hand.  

Mrs. Morris, are we filling your bucket?

I smiled. Yes! You are filling my bucket!

Our teacher says we filled hers, too.

I recorded their song and let them listen. There were giggles and smiles. Then I emailed the recording to their teacher. I also relayed their bucket comments so she would know they had been listening after all.

First Grade Music Class ❤️

Voices

One song
A song from
College days
Simple melody
Powerful message
Tempted to quote
You the lyrics or
Start singing
Even though
I haven’t heard
It in years-
Somehow it found
A hidden corner in
My memory banks
Locked itself away
Patiently waiting for
A chance at revival-
Today was the day!
Music rolled in
Like a wave-
One voice
Singing in the darkness
All it takes is one voice

Okay, okay
No more lyrics
Only these words-
My voice matters
And so does yours

Have a listen… 🙂

https://youtu.be/s7bv-Vn1_gw

https://music.apple.com/us/album/one-voice-digitally-remastered-1998/194640131?i=194640481

I wrote this poem during a recent poetry circle event with Ali Grimshaw. ❤ Learn more here: https://flashlightbatteries.blog/

Simply Sunday

Memories

Memories amaze me. They can be stored in our brains for years and suddenly find their way to the surface. Like when a song instantly transports me to another time or place. One I haven’t thought about in years! Then just as quickly, that memory fades, and a new one has filed right along beside it.

One would expect to hear the phrase, “Oh, that brings back memories,” from a grandparent. Or at least from someone who has lived long enough to experience certain milestones. But this week, I gained a new perspective on the subject.

During my First-Grade music class Friday, we sang Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star. It was one of those sweet moments where students gathered around the piano, singing as I played. Of course, they immediately asked if they could sing for their teacher when she returned. So, we practiced and got everyone lined up and ready.

And then I heard it. A sweet little voice in the group said, “Wow! That song really brings back a lot of memories!” “Why, yes, it does!” I smiled. This friend has lived on this earth for only six years. But you know, a lot can happen in six years. And just because it occurs in the first six years of life does not mean the memories are any less powerful.

Cheers to making memories and remembering them! ❤ 😉

Thanksgiving Prayer

My heart is seeking
A place of safety
Not to hide
But to sing
At first, quietly
To myself
Until joy that
Runs deep
Becomes
Overflowing
Gladness, and
I can sing
Out loud
With confidence
Hearing my voice
As it mingles
With others
Looking not to
Stir up conflict
Instead, pursuing
Lasting peace…
My heart left full…
Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving will look very different for most of us this year. Mine will be nothing like those of my childhood. At least forty people gathered in my Grandparents’ small house. Everyone would fill their plate and look for a place to sit. It really didn’t matter if it was a chair or a spot on the floor. Even outside on the porch if the weather was nice. All that mattered was being together.

Although those times are long past, the memories are forever inscribed on my heart. I always look back with a smile, grateful for my growing up years.

But there is no denying the difficulties this year brings.
It is my hope we can find ways to express thanks while also acknowledging those difficulties-joy mixed with our sorrow.

Sincerely wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving! ❤

Singing Along

I introduced a new song to my classes this week, “You-Nique.” It is part of a music curriculum entitled “Quaver.” Music teachers in our district are participating in a pilot of this material for the remainder of the school year.

My impression so far? It is a game-changer. The material is innovative, relevant, and engaging. It grabs the attention of students and does not let go.

The song I mentioned is only a tiny part of the material I utilized this week. But what a powerful piece. On the chorus, the main character sings:

“I’m brave, I’m strong, I’m loved, I’m smart, and I’m unique.”

Each time I pressed play, the room fell silent. All eyes watched the video and listened to the music. There were smiles and lots of head bobs. Many students were soon singing along.

Each time the song ended, without fail, someone would blurt out, “Can we hear it again?!” “Of course! But let’s talk about it first.”

Not only was the song catchy, but it also allowed for a great discussion. I asked students what they thought the word “unique” meant. Their answers ranged from beautiful and special to different.

I asked students if they ever had days where they did not feel strong or brave or loved. Some nodded their heads; others raised their hands. So honest.

I wanted them to know they were not alone. I told them there were times in my life when I didn’t feel strong or smart or loved. My intent was to acknowledge their feelings while also encouraging them.

Wouldn’t you know they ended up encouraging me? One sweet little boy spoke up, “Well, Mrs. Morris, we all love you!” “Oh sweetie, I love you guys, too.”

The song ends with the line, “And there’s no one else in the whole wide world, exactly like me.” I think we have a new favorite song. I have a feeling it will be requested often. And I look forward to singing right along with them.

A Birthday Embrace

As I have said before, I enjoy celebrating birthdays. Whether observing my own (which happens to be tomorrow) or those of friends and family, a birthday represents so many different things.

From the moment we enter this world, that date serves to remind us of important milestones. From the one-year-old birthday party all the way to a sweet sixteen, each shows us how far we’ve come.

The celebration itself doesn’t have to be elaborate. A favorite meal and cake of your choice are nice. A simple way of saying, “Today is your day. You get to choose.” This was often the practice for me as a child. And it continued for my own children.

Singing is also a must. Hearing friends and family crooning in unison, “Happy birthday to you,” never gets old. Followed by making a wish and blowing out the candles, of course.

Celebrating my own birthday also reminds me that I am getting older. I have some new aches and pains. I see new wrinkles when looking in the mirror. But that reflection shows so much more.

Hopefully, it is a reflection that shows growth. A growth that encourages me to push through the aches and pains and look past the wrinkles.

https://pianogirlthoughts.com/2018/06/14/birthdays/

Thanks for celebrating with me as I gracefully embrace my next over-half-a-century birthday. ❤

Well, my plan is for it to be a graceful embrace anyway. 😉

Go Practice!

When it comes to practicing challenging music, I am a little out of practice. 😉 Yes, I have rehearsed and performed solos with high school students and played for our all-school musical this school year. There were challenges, but none which required extended focused practice.

I am currently preparing to accompany seven college students at the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) competition. Each singer prepares four pieces from different time periods with contrasting styles.

Let’s do some math: 7 singers x 4 pieces = 28 individual songs.

I have played some of this music in years past. Some songs immediately returned to my hands. Muscle memory took over and the notes fit right under my fingers. Others, not so easy. Plus there are new ones I’m learning for the first time.

While talking to my mom on the phone today, I mentioned going home to practice after school. She laughed and said, “It’s been a while since you’ve really had to practice, huh?” I’m afraid she is right.

I have great sight-reading skills. Skills which have helped me through many a lesson, rehearsal, and even some performances. Not a practice I would recommend. And certainly not one acceptable for this current playing opportunity.

Practicing is hard work! Not a new truth. It was my life for many years. I can’t say I miss spending 3-4 hours a day in a practice room. But I was young and didn’t need to rest or stretch every 30 minutes. Nor did I have these pains in my neck and shoulders…

Despite the physical challenges which now accompany extended practice time, it is time well-spent. The list of benefits could go on and on, but here are a few:

  • Finally correcting a wrong note/rhythm
  • Repeating a particular phrase until it works
  • Combining my practice with the practice of others
  • Creating beautiful music

I suppose this experience falls into the life-long learner category. Learning new music and re-learning old. Discovering the need to change my practice habits. Shorter amounts of time, practicing more efficiently. Yes, I still have the ability. The process just looks a little different than it did thirty years ago.

I’ve had some dinner and taken a couple of Aleve. Put on a pot of decaf. Beginning to feel a tiny bit rested. Guess I’d better go practice! 🎶🎹🎶