Saturday, December 19, 2009

Performance or Disaster

I am the Bell Choir Director at Sunshine Christian School. This year I basically have a new group of "musicians". I don't think you can really call them that since we have been practicing since the first of the year on three songs and they don't sound anything like the titles. We always begin the year with music theory and learning basic notes and counting. Bells are fairly simple to learn. The hard part is playing together in a group.

I have learned that there are those who are tone deaf and can't count at an even speed. I have been teaching for about 18 years and this is the toughest group I have had to teach. I picked the easiest pieces that only play whole notes. I have had them clapping, stomping, marching in time, crawling, tapping their feet and a slew of other exercises to get them to feel the beat. Then I got the bright idea to have them sing the music so people would know what we were playing. What made me think that they could sing? Half the choir sang in monotone. I had just let myself in to teaching voice lessons to tone deaf kids. This was going from bad to worse.

The day before the Christmas program, I tired to go over and over the pieces hoping that through shear repetition they would get it. But the term "Practice Makes Permanent" is true. That plan backfired!

The only thing left to do was pray. I didn't want to be embarrassed and I didn't want the kids to feel like failures so that they didn't enjoy coming to bell practice anymore.

When the bell performance finally came we stood and took our places. Three things the kids are supposed to do right before I raise my hands. Check music, check bells, and look at me. Grip, lift, one, two, three......ooooo sour note. Someone had picked up the wrong bell. Interestingly enough it sounded kinda weirdly belonging there. I just kept going. I asked the audience to sing along with us and that helped cover it up somewhat. The next song was better, and they actually played Jingle Bells correctly!

After the performance people came up and said how much they enjoyed the bells. That they were the high light of the evening. If they only knew......fortunately they don't! Good job kids.

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