Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Rest of the Time

Sometimes, I wonder if my blog paints an accurate picture of my classroom.  I don't intentionally try to be dishonest or only share the good parts of my day, but I usually blog when I feel like I have something interesting to write about!  The everyday occurrences don't always make it up here - but today, they're going to!  So, this is what goes on "the rest of the time" - what fills up the bulk of my teaching moments at school.

We learn scales.  We rehearse our music.  I remind the kids to play with low 1s and extended 4s and F-naturals, not F-sharps!  We play a bit, stop and fix a few things, and then play that section again.  We work on dynamics, on tempos, on techniques like shifting, pizzicato, or vibrato.  I remind my cellos to play quieter and ask my violins to play louder.  "USE MORE BOW!" probably comes out of my mouth at least three times per day.  I remind kids to sit up straight, play with good position, fix their bow holds, pluck with the right hand and finger with the left, and listen for a good sound.

I tune instruments.  I reset bridges, put new strings on, and tighten chinrests.  I re-tune instruments.  I put fingertapes on.  I tighten bows for kids that can't turn the screw anymore and loosen them when they don't yet have the strength.  I show kids when their shoulder rests are on backwards, how to tighten their bow to the right amount, and to take their endpins out a little more.  And then I tune an instrument with a peg that slipped.

I set up chairs.  I straighten stands.  I move my "mobile classroom" (giant bag) from room to room and school to school.  I use the aging computer/sound system, run into technical difficulties, problem solve, and sometimes get it to work.  I plug in Chromebooks that didn't get put back correctly.  I search for stolen lost violas and drop instruments off at the repair shop.  I collect money, collect forms, and track it all on my master spreadsheet.  I watch videos, grade and give feedback, and enter it all into the system.  I check my email and sort through all of the messages from all four of my schools to make sure I catch anything that might involve music.  I make copies.  I color-code and highlight for my students who need extra support, and then make more copies.  I write exercises and/or modified parts on Finale to fit my group.  I print them out, then find that the copier is jammed and pull a bunch of levers and turn a bunch of knobs to find the one tiny torn piece of paper that is activating the machine's sensors.

I talk with students.  I talk with counselors and other teachers about students, in order to serve them better.  I see kids in the halls, I remind them to WALK from class to class, I ask them how their day is going, I remind them to pick up their instruments to take them home to practice, and I ask them about that jersey they have on.  I answer their questions and hear their stories and give high fives all day long.

In short, I TEACH.  This is the minutia that makes up my days.  And, you know what?  I love it!  Most of these events are not "blog-worthy", but that does not mean that they are unimportant.  I will continue to blog about the new and exciting things happening in my classroom, but rest assured, those moments will be surrounded by all of these little things that make up "the rest of the time".


  1. We always have to choose! (what to say....what to write about...) I always like the honesty your bring to your posts--and, sure, we write about highlights. I enjoyed this post about your day-to-day.
    Soooo many aspects to teaching!

  2. I just love this! It's so true that there are so many mundane moments in our teaching, that doesn't come through in our blogs. Would be really cool to initiate a "typical day" series of posts in our #sunchatbloggers group.

  3. I love this post Aubrey...and although it may sound like minutia to you, to a very non-musical person like me, it is awe inspiring. I couldn't do any of your job (except try to fix the copier and give high fives to the kids). I'm incredibly impressed.

  4. I love your detailed portrayal of the music educator. They may not be glamorous, but these day to day tasks are what keeps the music coming! Thanks Aubrey.

  5. Thanks for sharing your minutiae with us. It's funny how we forget to think about all of the little things that really are the foundation for the few moments of greatness that we deem blog-worthy.

  6. This is a great post, Aubrey. I see it this way, all the daily details make up your school day and all the individual instruments make up an orchestra. Both are parts of the whole. Thanks for the peek into your classroom.

  7. Fabulous window into your day! Loved reading about the little things that make up a day in which students come, learn something about music...but also about themselves. Keep up the great work!