I was part of the first Arts Day at Hanover School today, I was initially perturbed by the irony of presenting Arts as a job and not getting paid a living wage as an artist for the event. But, as I figured, it was all about playing with the kids, and for myself, a chance to talk about (think about) what I do, and how I do it. And reflection is always rewarding.
I did 5 sessions with K, 1st and 2nd grades and each class had it’s limits and leaps of knowledge. K had difficulties with rhymes, and what is a question, and various other developmental challenges, but not unexpected. 2nd grade really had informational leaps, but were a little more reticent in singing along. Again, not unexpected.
I focused on how an artist like me makes artistic choices in the moment, as does a painter with colors and shapes. And I have tools that help me as an artist which include the audience, along with instruments, songs, picks, capoes, etc. I found it interesting to me that I considered the audience as a tool, and perhaps that’s what helps define me as an artist.
I also talked about being a performing artist, a teaching artist and a recording artist, all of which are different, and that not everyone can pull off all three.
Again, a signature of being an artist for me is the fact that time disappears, and that’s exactly what happened today. The time passed quickly, the kids and teachers had a great time as well.
One remarkable teaching moment came in the afternoon when the special needs kids were in the back of the room while I was with the 2nd graders. I decided to do Jelly in the Dish, which is a one chord funk number. I launched into it and one girl with some severe challenges simply started to rock to the beat and screamed with joy. The 2nd graders were surprised by her reaction, and made the point that her reaction was a moment of pure joy for me, because we connected through music, and it was better than applause for me. I think the kids got the message, and it was a palpable teaching moment for us all. The surprises always do that, and make my job vital and meaningful as a musician and teacher.