"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


Daily Life, 23

I continue to be amazed at how easy it is to completely misunderstand someone.

Right now, I'm thinking about 4th grade Music today, and an interaction that eventually went well--but only because I've had the good fortune to be surrounded by some people with generous, calm hearts towards kids--teachers who have shown me how to turn around a conversation that's going downhill because I jumped to conclusions.

I make a lot of mistakes. Today was one day where I actually feel like I'm learning how to listen better. Here's what happened:

Me: Jasper*, how in the world are you ever going to be in the Kids' Cabaret as a serious musician, when you're not being serious about your music now?

Jasper*: Well, I was just saying something to Peter*.

Me: About music?

Jasper*: Well....no.

Me (in a very frustrated tone of voice): Jasper*, one of the reasons we have rehearsals is so that you can learn how to stay in focus on the music. I mean, we all have to learn that--even grown ups. This seems to be a pattern with you...how are you going to be a performer if you don't practice now?

Jasper*: Uh, well, do we have to perform? Do we have to be in the Kids' Cabaret?

Me: Have to? It's more like, are you ALLOWED to.

At that point, class time had ended, and the kids needed to return to homerooms.
The whole conversation bothered me a lot, so I found Jasper* in the afterschool program and asked if we could talk.

Me: I'm just wondering if you can help me to understand what's going on for you, in Music. What was your question about the Kids' Cabaret all about? What were you thinking about?

Jasper*: Um...well....I wanted to know if we had to be in it in order to move on to 5th grade.

Me: No, you don't. But don't you want to be in it? Don't you remember how much fun you had last year, when your big brother was in it? Now it's your turn.

Jasper*: Um....yeah.

Me: I still don't get what's going on.

Jasper*: Well...um....it just makes me kind of, you know, nervous. That's what I was saying to Peter*.

Me: Oh.

Jasper*: Yeah...he said he got nervous, too, but his sister told him not to think about anything but the music and he'd do OK.

Me: That's what you guys were talking about during Music?

Jasper*: Yeah.

Me: Well. Um...well, it probably would've been better if you guys had talked about it when we weren't actually playing the music, but...but it was a good thing to talk about. I thought you were just goofing around. That's why I was so frustrated with you....I think I should've taken more time to really find out what was going on, instead of scolding you. I'm sorry.

Jasper*: It's fine. Can I go back to my friends now?

Me: Yep. Thanks.

Thank goodness kids have such kind hearts.

*Jasper and Peter* are, of course, not these young musicians' real names.

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