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  • Writer's pictureJennifer E. Rose

6th Graders and My Need for Therapy

Updated: May 6, 2020

I could honestly end at the title. It says it all. But...

This picture really sums up my experience thus far. Through my 12 years as an educator of 4th grade through 12th grade students, I believe I have found the perfect picture to summarize my daily experience as a band director.

The child on the right looks as though she has attempted this version of the soap box derby before. She has the knowledge of the joy to come, and is simply happy to be living through the experience once again. She is truly enjoying the moment. This child is akin to a high school band director: she knows the experience of sharing beautiful music and the joy of turning on that artistic light switch of a teenager. She understands that, at this point, she gets to mold and shape these musicians into more sophisticated future leaders of our society. She is wise, humble, insightful, and inspiring at the least.

Then we see the child on the left racing full bore downhill excited to see (if she can-those goggles are a little iffy) what comes next, or scared out of her watermelon helmet. It's difficult to distinguish between her excitement and her fear. This is the middle school band director. Excited and fearful, but mostly excited and throw in a little crazy. She understands nothing because as soon as she figures it out, it changes. It's as though she is playing a game with a 4-year-old who keeps changing the rules.

And we all know how fun THAT is.

I love being an educator. I love being a MUSIC educator. But something I love even more is being a 6th grade band director and life coach to prepubescent humans, well I think they're human. It truly is an experience EVERYONE needs to survive. Depending on the weather, it could go amazingly well and I can inspire young minds and hearts to connect to music. OR...I can't and I feel like a complete failure as a band director and adult.

I have been completely and utterly amazed by my 6th grade students. I had a student walk in today with his 20 ounce bottle of pop on a leash...A LEASH! I have one student who walks in with a smile every day, ready to play her horn and work hard. I have a student who irritates me beyond belief but I love him just the same and cannot imagine him not in being band. I have so many others that similarly have their own personalities and stories. These interesting kids challenge me everyday for more than the 45 minutes I see them. I take them home everyday. I take them to my other classes. I take them when I go get groceries.

I cannot escape them!

I cannot escape the thought of this particular group of kids. I am constantly searching for that one trick that trumps all the other tricks. I'm looking for that magical trick that I can pull out of my bag and use anytime I want in order to obtain a positive result. And I will tell you that a taser is not it (you better not believe I have tried that, it's only a joke! But I have imagined a board stationed at my podium and controlled only by me that is electrically connected to each chair in order to send a low voltage "message" to students. It could be quite a wonderful tool. But I digress.).

Two days ago, I was disgusted by the class's overall lackluster concept of common decency and respect. Today I was amazed by their cooperation and focus. This is causing me to need more therapy. I mean come on! Why can't you walk into a room without announcing your dumbest thoughts? Why do you feel the need to lick your trumpet? It hasn't changed flavors from yesterday when you did the same thing. Why do you walk your pop bottle? What human part of you decides that THAT is a respectable sound? And why on earth would I need to know THAT?!

But then, my baton finds the ictus and all is well with the world.

Hallelujah! Thank you! Praise the Lord! Amen.

Life is much better. Until I give a cutoff. Then we're right back where we started. See the need for therapy...or a good, stiff drink? Oh..well...maybe both.

Until next time...

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