The “Aha!” Moment

Life is going by so quickly right now.  I can’t believe we’re already a quarter of the way through the semester.  Eek!

The Superbowl was last weekend…at least I think it was last weekend.  I can’t even remember anymore.  I got to hang out with some pretty cool people that evening, and I made food.  I roasted cauliflower with this balsamic vinegarette sauce – it was awesome?  Who cares about football?  Not this girl.

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Then I had my first observation a few days after that.  Here’s what I felt like before my observation…

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…and after.

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Check out those awesome bags I have under my eyes.  This was a super long day.  I wasn’t really nervous for it, but I was anxious for it to be over so I could check it off as being completed.  My lesson for high school band turned out really well, and my supervisor had some great things to say about my teaching, but I was so mentally drained after that day.  Thank goodness the following day was a snow day!  

During said snow day, I cooked a lot.  I had this 5 lb. bag of potatoes sitting in my kitchen, and I wasn’t eating them fast enough.  I’d had a baked potato here and there, but I decided to cook them all at once so they wouldn’t go bad.  So I found a recipe that used fresh rosemary because I had some leftover from my cauliflower, and I roasted the rest of those potatoes.

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They turned out very well!  I like how they were kind of crispy on the outside, but still soft and potato-y on the inside.  

My life these days typically goes like this: 

Teach at school and be there from typically 8 a.m. to around 6 p.m., but it’s even later on Mondays due to extra ensembles.  When I get home, I immediately put on my sweats and usually lesson plan for the next day.  I’m getting faster at it!  Then I have around 2 hours in the rest of my day.  Sometimes the remainder of my time is spent sewing, cooking, or hanging out with my roommate.  I also go rehearse with my friend Savvas for his recital, so I have to trudge up to the music building.  I hate the walk up there in the cold, but once I’m there I love rehearsing.  It’s refreshing to play with a couple excellent college musicians after working with musically immature kids all day.  

And sometimes, I just lay on my bed and don’t do anything.  Or I just go to bed.  Teaching is very draining!  My eyes hurt from reading music all day, and my brain hurts from being so analytic about everything I do, and I’m just plain tired.  But compared to a regular semester, I would say I am no more busy than I was then, it’s just a different kind of energy that I use and it’s a different kind of tired.  Either way, I’m still tired.  Like right now.  I have to go write a short lesson plan for elementary band then I’m going straight to sleep.  

I can see why music teachers gets burned out with their jobs.  It’s hard to stay motivated, energized, and constantly working with little down time. Long hours, frustrating lessons, rude kids, and more make a band director’s life difficult.  

But then you go to festivals with your students like PMEA district band, and you get refueled.  You just have to keep finding things to refresh you and help you realize that teaching is not hopeless, and that your kids are learning something.  I went to the district festival for a few days last week, and it was great.  Not only did I get to network with some other directors and get to know my kids a lot better, I got to see the kids begin to really understand music on a deeper level.  One of the girls at districts decided that she really wanted to take private lessons.  She said she could start to “feel the music.”  And today in rehearsal, one of the low brass said during a slow, gorgeous piece, “after districts, I appreciate this piece.”  After seeing and hearing this stuff firsthand, I just want to fist pump the air and yell, “YES!”

They’re starting to “get” music.  The “aha!” moments are priceless. It takes a certain level of maturity and understanding, and some of these kids are getting there.  It’s totally inspiring and reminds me why I do this and why I want to do it for the rest of my life.  I snapped this picture waiting for evening ensembles to begin.  Music makes me happy.  My students make me happy.  Life (despite being tiring) is good.

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