Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Family Business

Well, today I enter the family business…teaching. I come from a family of teachers…both parents, brother, sister-in-law, 3 aunts, 1 uncle, 1 cousin, and I’m sure there are several more out there that I’ve forgotten to mention. I’ve avoided it for as long as I could, but this year the family business is finally catching up to me. I am the new Music and Movement teacher at Ella’s preschool!

For those of you who are surprised…yes, I do have a music degree. No, I haven’t used it in a long time, but I’m excited to put it to good use. I will only be working 2 days a week, so I will still have plenty of time around the house, and since it’s at the same time Ella is in preschool, I won’t have to miss out on time with her. In fact, she’s very excited that I’m going to be working at her school.

I’ve spent last week at the school getting things ready. The first day I was completely overwhelmed and stressed out, but by Friday I felt like I had things pretty much under control. I just keep telling myself that the kids are all 4 and under, so they’re not going to care whether or not my voice is in shape…they just want to sing, dance and play instruments.

I have to pick on my parents a little bit. They have been so funny about this whole thing. For those of you who don’t know, my parents are both incredible musicians. My dad sang opera back in the day, has sung at more than one Governor’s Inauguration, and has sung the tenor lead for several musical productions with the Casper Symphony and around the state of Wyoming. He was a vocal music teacher for I don’t know how many years (and even tried to teach his daughter a thing or two). My mom also has a beautiful voice and can play anything on the piano. Needless to say, my parents are very musically gifted. That said, I’ll go out on a limb and say that neither of them has taught preschool music. So, in discussing my new job, there have been 2 questions asked that nearly sent me into a fit of laughter.

1) This came from my mom: Are you going to have an accompanist? Yeah, it’s called the CD player. The kids are ages 1 to 4…I don’t think an accompanist is needed.

2) This came from my dad: Have you had a chance to meet with the choir? Umm, I’m not sure I would call it a “choir.” Yes, we have children’s choirs at our church, but this is just a music class in the preschool. There’s no arranged music for them to learn…unless you count the Itsy Bitsy Spider.

I am really excited to start working with the kids and put my music back into practice. It was funny because my original plan was to just find random songs that they could sing along to…I’d stick the CD in the player, we’d sing, I’d put in a new song, we’d sing, etc. It was going to be that simple. Then, as my planning week progressed, my music background started rearing its ugly head. Suddenly I felt like I would be doing these kids a disservice if I didn’t at least TRY to teach them something about music. That was when everything spiraled out of control. I grabbed a calendar and started planning…each month has a theme and each week has a specific activity associated with that theme…WHO AM I AND WHERE DID THIS COME FROM? For example, later in the year we’re going to have a month associated with rhythm and learning how to keep a beat to the music (you’d be surprised at how many people don’t have this skill). One week we’ll use egg shakers, one week we’ll use drums, etc. Another month we will talk about different types of music…one week we’ll listen to jazz, another week we’ll listen to classical, etc. (I even have a week where we’ll listen to country music…what kind of Wyoming girl would I be if I didn’t include country music somehow). Yeah, maybe this is a bit over ambitious, but I feel like I owe it to my past music theory teachers to at least give it a shot. It’s not like I’m going to make them learn how to read a key signature, or learn the lines on a treble clef. If the first month is a complete disaster, then we’ll skip the themes and go back to keeping it simple.

There you have it. My first class is around 10:30 this morning so we’ll see how it goes. I just hope I don’t have a complete panic attack in front of the kids. They would stay away from music forever if that were to happen.

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