As I have said before, this school year is a special kind of crazy because I took on the 4th grade instrumental program at my school. That means I am now doing the job of 1.5 teachers. It has been stressful, busy, and I have often questioned whether taking on instrument lessons was a good idea. Is my health, my sanity, and the suffering of some of the parts of my job worth it?
The answer is a resounding YES.
I have a student (let's call him B) who plays the saxophone. B practices his instrument every day, teaches himself new notes, reads about the new skills and concepts on his own, and has thus worked ahead of the other students.
B's success is attributed to lots of things. He's very bright to begin with and probably has some innate musical talent as well. He also has supportive parents who recognize playing an instrument is something he would both enjoy and excel at.
But the main reason for B's success is what he told me yesterday morning while he was putting his instrument together in my room. You see, I invited B to play his saxophone in the stairwell yesterday morning so as the students filed to their classrooms, they could hear him play. I wanted to reward B's hard work and I also wanted the other students to see what they could achieve if they worked hard too.
"I could barely sleep last night, I was so excited," B told me. "This is my PASSION," he said.
And there you go. THAT RIGHT THERE makes all the stress and missed lunches worth it. B will no doubt play the saxophone for the rest of his school career. I see him in county band and district band. I see him in marching band. I see him making friends and memories and beautiful music. I think back on all my awesome memories from band and I know for sure that B is going to get to have those memories too.
My excitement isn't just for B. There are going to be so many students I am teaching this year who will continue with band for the rest of their time in school. And they get to have those experiences because they had the OPPORTUNITY to play an instrument in 4th grade.
So the next time I am hungry, stressed, and feeling like I'm not a good teacher, I am going to remind myself what B and the rest of my students are going to get out of this. And knowing that makes it ALL worth it!