Tuesday, October 4, 2016

31 Days: Perspective.

This is Day Four in the 31 Days of Small series. 

One of the things I consistently teach year after year in my classroom is that idea that music tells a story.  Sometimes a composer includes words and stories, and we know exactly what the composer wants to convey.  However, sometimes composers writes pieces with titles suggesting a theme, and the audience has to listen and feel for understanding.  

Working with my second graders yesterday morning, my heart was still feeling a little sore after this weekend's events.  I looked at their sweet faces and wondered what the world had taught them the last few days.  I wondered if they even knew what the grownups around them were speaking about, or if this was the same old, same old part of their reality.  

We were listening to a few selections of music--Grieg, Williams, and Guaraldi.  I did not tell the students the titles of the selections and I did not give them any reference or ideas of where they may have heard them before.  I asked them to simply describe how they felt listening to the pieces in one or two words.  

"In the Hall of the Mountain King" was easy for them--they all settled on words like "sneaky" and "tiptoes."  They loved it--but honestly, who doesn't love it? 


"Holiday Flight" from Home Alone was fun for them as well.  They giggled and told me it felt like running and excitement.  


However, when it came to this song, I was completely blown away by their responses: 


Fully expecting them to say words like "peaceful" or even "slow" like the classes before them, I was very surprised to hear them use the words "sad" and "lonely" to describe what they were hearing.  One little boy with some major behavior issues really surprised me.  He looked around to make sure his friends couldn't hear his answer, cupped his hands around his mouth, and literally got out of his seat to whisper to me, "It makes me feel like crying."

I was not expecting one of my most difficult children to say that to me--which is, of course, completely ridiculous because these expressive moments are what I live for in my classes.  My mind went immediately to the events from this past weekend and how all of us in the same room listened to the exact same piece of music at the exact same time, and we all had completely different reactions. 

I decided to use this as a teachable moment.  I asked the children if I could share my feelings on the song and I used words like "cozy" and "calm" in my narrative.  Several of them smiled and I could tell they were imagining those things with me.  I then asked the students if they thought my words were wrong because they were different from the words they shared--and they quickly agreed that there weren't any wrong answers and that we could all be right in our feelings.  It was a small and regular moment in my classroom, one among many that occur on a daily basis.  

But those sweet babies gave me some perspective and mended my heart a little bit. 

We can share our life experiences with one another.  We can share our feelings with one another.  We can even be on completely different sides of the fence and have civil conversations with each other.  

And sometimes the smallest conversations can lead to the biggest changes. 

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