I headed up 4th Street to Donegan School for the first of four Thursday sessions with the kids in 3rd, 4th and 5th grades. It was pretty hot so I appreciated the AC in the school. I was greated warmly at the front desk and given a mask since that’s the protocol for interaction with students. I found that it was hard to understand some of the kids – a new wrinkle for me.
I had my guitar and my bag of rhythm instruments with me and I was glad I didn’t dump the bag out with all the instruments. I simply brought out the rain stick and then just maracas. It was good to use the bag judiciously. I makes for more surprises iover the next few weeks.
I had three sessions today, starting with the 5th grade. There were about 10 kids in each room. The 5th graders were a good mix of intelligent kids, some curious and a few somewhat embarrassed to interact with this old white guy. But, I never let that slow me down. I worked out a set that I used for the two other sessions. It was fun to have adult conversations with the kids (and teachers), and brought that up with some of the teachers – how important it is not to talk down to the students.
Introduction of the Guitar, I Like Peanut Butter, Tutti Tah, I Wanna Be a Dog, introduction to the Rain Stick, introduction to maracas and rhythm patterns, We Gave Names to the Animals and PB&J (if I had time to kill).
Fifth grade was a little retiscent, fourth graders were all in, and third had scattered attention spans. Still, we got some heavy lifting done, I assigned the kids to check out an animal to write about for next time (We Gave Names) and also said that students will lead Tutti Tah next week (leadership). We also did some mental exercises with TT by reverse-engineering the order of the moves. The kids were fully engaged.
We did reflections at the end of each session and I also asked the teachers what they learned. In the fourth grade class, there were a couple of social workers whom I leaned on to take part in the session: Community, you know. Towards the end of one of the sessions, I told one woman to put her cell phone down, to her surprise. It was a curious situation but, hopefully, a learning experience for her. I’m so bad. (I did explain myself afterwards and she said no problem.) The teachers were totally engaged and appreciative.
The three hours went quickly and I felt that I had laid down some solid ground work for next week’s sessions. And I’m confident that I have plenty of room to expand on what I’ve done so far. I will get paid well for this residency, which is somewhat unsettling considering the lack of work over the last 18 months. I won’t know what to do with the money – oh, yeah. Car insurance. So it goes.