I finished up my three day residency in Bristol with two sessions with the 1st grade today. Phew. It was good, but there seemed to be a lack of focus with about 10% of the kids, and the teachers and I had to reign in several kids several times. I tried to get across the fact that we could have more fun together if we are making music together, but I think the age level and grade level made it hard to accomplish. I also think the some kids have little experience in a rich group experience, and see it as recess.

I had my bag of instruments with me but realized that it would not be worth the chaos unleashed with this group. It worked with the 2nd graders and the K’s but not this particular gang. Not that there weren’t some highly motivated and intelligent kids in the group. Many were really engaged, but the fringes demanded my energy. That’s the way it is in schools today, I suppose.

I apologized to one of the teachers that I couldn’t do better but she said this is a particularly hard group to work with, and I could see a little of the “deer in the headlights” in her expression. Urban first graders… The teachers were really pleased that I gave each one a CD with instructions to share with the classes I played to this week.

During the break, I headed to Bristol Cemetery to look for my grandparents grave. With a little help from the caretaker, I found the stones, took some pictures to send to my sister and kids and paused to thank Pop Pop for what he has passed on to me. He died when I was 14, but really enjoyed his presence in my early life. My grandmother Anna passed on before I was born. I’m glad I checked in again.