Suck it up, Rachel…

I’ve had a really challenging class this year. They are older kids. Kids who have seen a bit too much already. I haven’t taught them for long (only this year), so I haven’t really established friendships with them. They don’t really trust me much (and why would they?). And there’s a big range of abilities, and some really strong personalities.

Ususally, I drum with older kids, and they love it. NOT this bunch. After two terms, they basically mutinied. They drummed it with another teacher, and are bored. They don’t like it. And I was getting nowhere. I hadn’t won them.

I work with an amazing AP (Assistant Principal to those not in the know…). She went into the class and talked to them. Found out what they might like to do in music. They gave her a list – they wanted a song that they could play along to on didgeridoo, percussion, and clap sticks. And sing as well. So she wrote all this down to me. It must have taken her hours. And then I read it. And then panicked.

Now, modern songs aren’t something I listen to. In fact, I hear auto-tune in tracks and switch off (both my ears, and then the radio). I get bored with most of it, and lots of songs aren’t really singable with kids. So I am NOT the right person to create this new percussion-stuff-to-a-song for these kids. But I’m all they’ve got. And I have a weekend.

Ben (long-suffering husband) came to the rescue. He found a song, and with very clever editing software edited it for me to be in the right key (so I could add percussion stuff in C), edited it again so it was in a format we could all memorise, edited it more to remove a few unsiutable lyrics, and then I sat down and dreamed up percussion parts and a way to teach it. This was all done over 48 hours, in the middle of a weekend of a concert, cello teaching and desperately needing to plant out seedlings.

And last week, I started teaching it. And the kids loved it. This week, I’ll find out if they’ve practised it. But for the first time, they were all engaged. I won’t ever like this song. But what we’ve done with it I will. And the fact it makes kids smile makes me smile. So I will suck up my hatred of auto-tune, and try to sneak in as much musical teaching as I can. And enjoy kids enjoying it.