"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, 40

Second Grade, start of Music class, everyone up and doing the Lindy.

We've been working on following a leader (so far, that would be me) doing Lindy shines. At some point, I say, "Freeze!" then "Improvise!"--and everyone does.

Today, I went around to each child as they were improvising, and tried to copy their steps. Wow! Some subtle movements that I only caught by trying to do them myself.
It never ceases to amaze me how much different it feels, to try to move like someone else.

I asked the kids to make a big circle, all clapping, and invited anyone who wanted to, to come into the center to take a dance solo, improvising, with all of us trying to copy their steps.

To my utter surprise, EVERY boy wanted a turn. And they were good: they matched both the style and the tempo of the music.

Only one girl took a turn. Bing! Warning bells went off in my mind. I stopped the music for a minute, and we all sat down.

"Hmm...I see lots of boys wanting a turn, but only Sarya for the girls. What's happening, girls? Anyone else want a turn?"


"You do know you're guaranteed to do it right, don't you? I mean, this is improvisation. You're supposed to be making it up."

Kate*: "But what if we make a mistake? What if we can't think of anything?"

Matt*: "Just tap your hands. Or do one of the Lindy shines. It doesn't matter."

Sarya*: "I think it's fun. I think it's OK that it's fun."

Matt*: "It's SUPPOSED to be fun!"

This started a discussion about 'doing it right' and 'fun'. Ideas flew around. After a few moments, one of the boys said, "OK, can we just dance now?"

So we did. And this time, most of the kids wanted a turn in the solo circle.

They fixed it themselves. Sweet.

*Sarya, Kate and Matt are, of course, not these young dancers' real names.

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