"The free play of art is the result of mastery. " --Ernst Fischer, The Necessity of Art

"Children are likely to live up to what you believe of them." --Ladybird Johnson

"...a well-trained ear, a well-trained intelligence, a well-trained heart, and a well-trained hand...." --Zoltan Kodaly


Snow in October

Dear J,

"Children are apt to live up to what you believe of them" : Lady Bird Johnson clearly knew kids.

The first snowflakes of the season fluttered past First Grade Music class  at 12:40 today.  Of course, we stopped everything to rush over to the windows, so that we could gaze at the snow, and  dance in delight.  Even if it is a bit early for that cold white stuff, the first snow of the season does carry a magic all its own.

Why?  Why does something as simple as snowfall bring that joy out in every kid every time, but the learning process doesn't  always?

Could it be because I expect them to be excited about snow? Because I believe that children will respond with delight to the first snowfall?   If so---and if Lady Bird Johnson is right (and I know she is!)--then clearly, my beliefs  about the learning process need  to be stretched a bit.

   I do believe that each child will respond with intent interest and sustained focus on music-making: that's what does happen, generally, on a day-to-day basis.

But perhaps I've been expecting too little of their ability to be 'on fire'  as musicians.  I would like that fire of excitement which lights kids up inside, upon seeing the first snowfall, to be kindled by day-to-day music making.  I want to see my students light up with learning, to have them dancing in excited interest during every music session, and to sustain that throughout their entire year---throughout their entire lives.

Perhaps today's 'being present and aware of the moment' work lies just there: in my own mindset, in steadily setting my own expectations to attract the response to learning that I believe kids are capable of: steady joy.

And, as we all know, if that's the belief, children are ' apt to live up to what we believe of them".

Thanks, L.B.J.

More, later.

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