There are some days when I am Up. To. Here. with all things relating to Stinkerbelle’s recent foray into proper full-day school. There are just some days when I am SO over the notion of endless fundraising and reports of incidents involving my kid and extracurricular therapy appointments and unarrangeable meetings with teachers.
Today, however, is NOT one of those days.
Today there was a concert assembly scheduled, and the kindergarten classes were going to perform. Now, one of the songs was scheduled to be performed at the Christmas pageant, only someone on staff, in their INFINITE WISDOM, decided that parents would not be invited because there would not be enough room.
(Parents. Not invited to their kids’ Christmas pageant. Yeah, we were headdesking a lot at that, too. Also, it was scheduled in the middle of the daytime so what parents would be able to take time off?)
Anyway, there must have been a LOT of complaints about that, because we had been given notice well in advance of the three subsequent times our kindergarten kids would be performing again, with the added bonus that we were all welcome to attend.
And thus it was that today was one of those days. And I decided to go, because That Girl has been practicing her songs and eagerly asking if I will be there to see her perform. So, well in advance of the 11:10 start time I went over to the school, and when I opened the door to the cacophony of the gymnasium, found I was the only parent there so far. So I helped haul chairs out for parents, and settled in.
By and by the gym filled with classes of kids and teachers, and maybe 30 parents as well. And then Mr. Duncan stepped to the mike.
I like Mr. Duncan immensely. He’s the music teacher on staff, and on first glance he’s a bit of an odd duck. But today I got to see him as a teacher, and his odd duck nature is DELIGHTFUL. Slightly offbeat, slightly anarchic, funny, and very cool. He was the emcee of today’s assembly, which he called “Music Monday (On A Tuesday)”, in honour of yesterdays national music day — except on a Tuesday, which he said was an excellent marketing ploy to keep the gym from getting to full and hot. And he spent a good deal of time talking about how music is good for your brain. As a music lover, I liked his patter.
First up were a grade 6 concert band, which was not bad — a bit cacophonous, but still learning. And there was Mr. Duncan in front, directing, keeping them all on beat, and rocking along with their attempted tune. And I thought, Well isn’t that nice. A band.
Then came the kindergarten class, my daughter’s class, to sing their songs. And I was surprised to see my daughter’s teacher accompanying them, very well I might add, on piano, while Mr. Duncan again conducted them. And actually? The kids were really, really good. Okay, the second song I think might have gone on a little long, because the singing began to trail off considerably, and at one point a teacher had to separate two of the little boys in the front row who began fighting, but otherwise? It was excellent. I have to say I was surprised.
I was going to duck out after Stinkerbelle’s number, but I got to chatting with another mum and missed the break, and the grade twos, taught by Mr. Farmer, came up. And Mr. Farmer put on a bass guitar and plugged into an amp, and put on a harmonica. And Mr. Duncan grabbed a saxophone. And the two of them led the class in a fabulous and interactive version of “Bananaphone”. And I was intrigued. Two music teachers, in one school?
But then it kept getting better. Mr Duncan, who I was learning was a multi-instrumentalist, got on the keyboard and led another band, a symphonic band of grade eights, on another song. Mr. Farmer, this time on drums, and another teacher on guitar, then led a singing group doing a Jessie J song. Another concert band came up and Mr. Duncan led THEM on a trumpet or something.
And then Mr. Duncan, Mr. Farmer, and three other teachers got up and performed a really good cover of a currently popular song, with one of the female teachers doing a decent impression of Serena Ryder. I was all THIS. IS. AWESOME! ELEVENTEEN!
But the moment that clinched it, really CEMENTED IT for me, was when the teachers played the school song — which, since the school mascot is a wolf, is to the tune of Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London”.
WEREWOLVES OF LONDON, PEOPLE!!
This is when I realized that, no matter what else, MY KID IS IN THE RIGHT SCHOOL.
Clearly, this is a school where the arts are nurtured. Artistic expression is fostered and guided and multifaceted. And it is cool. I mean, I suspected as much when Stinkerbelle came home one day early in the year and I learned that one of the first songs she learned in music class was “We Will Rock You”, but today I saw IN ACTION what I had only suspected.
Music is cool. Just as cool as loving math or science or sports or languages, which I have no doubt are all valued and nurtured here — loving music is cool.
My kid loves music. I don’t doubt that one day, she will be one of those kids up there in a band or singing or whatever, not just with her class. And I love that this is not just an afterthought, as it is in so many cash-starved schools nowadays (and as it was from a cultural standpoint in the schools I attended as a kid), but an important and valued part of the curriculum. That many of the kids embrace it, many of the teachers participate, and it is rich in band and classical and modern types of music all together.
I’m glad I went. I’m very glad I stayed. And, despite the everyday frustration that comes and will no doubt continue to come as my girl progresses through school, I can look back on today and be confident that despite any frustrations on our part, she’s in the right place for her. She’s in good hands.
And that if she gets Mr. Duncan or Mr. Farmer as a teacher as she winds her way through — all the better.