Class progress at Language School

“You look tired,” said one of my students when I walked into the room today. They were all waiting for me, (I hadn’t realised that we’d be starting earlier today), smiling warmly. I have so much tension at the moment, so many thoughts driving around in my head, but I felt myself start to ease off, and dropped myself into the day’s activities.

It was a pretty satisfying day at Language School, overall. Lower Primary were a little tricky – they have become progressively more tricky this term, not less. It is very, very hard to keep them focused. I have picked up the pace of all my activities, I am talking as little as possible, I am reinforcing the music room rules (‘good listening, good looking, good waiting’) at every opportunity, but still trying to see through the composition project I had planned for them. It is uphill work!

We finished today’s lesson by recording their glockenspiel playing, then I showed them a short DVD clip of my nephew (aged 2 and 1/2) playing home-made drumkit, while wearing a nappy. He (my nephew) has all the rock star moves. His drumstick work is pretty impressive too. The Lower Primary children really enjoyed watching this, so I should dig out some more clips for them to watch of other children playing instruments.

My happiest lesson today was with Upper Primary. We composed the last part of our Aranea music. They were so focused through the whole lesson, offering words, developing melodies, and repeating the song as it progressed.

I am happy with it. It has a catchy chorus, it has a chanted section, and has a bridge that adds tension and build-up, and it has body percussion. I think they will perform it well. The process? We brainstormed words, describing the spider’s situation after the storm (tiredness, remembering the terrible experience, finally going outside, finding a new place to live, rebuilding her home), then we organised these ideas into a chorus, a verse, and a bridge. I had already planned a simple chord progression to work with (Dm, Dm, Gm, A) – we set this up as an accompaniment and experimented with melodies.

Here is our song, composed in about an hour:

(Verse)

She goes outside, She finds her leaf, and remembers what happened.

She is so tired, but when she sleeps, she dreams about the storm.

(Bridge)

Now she makes her web. Now she catches food. Everything is better now.

(Chorus)

She has a new life, safe and happy, She has a new life, safe and happy.

The storm is gone, the sun is coming out,

And she will live in her leaf in the tree.

The last line is quite a tongue-twister for the students – lots of ‘Ls’.

Despite being in a minor key, the song has a lot of energy and uplifting feeling to it. This is music that we will perform as part of a Refugee Week concert, in a few week’s time. I am hoping to project images from the book at the back of the stage while the children perform, as well as images that they have drawn depicting their own journeys to Australia.

A good day’s work. Maybe I’ll take the night off. I’d like to indulge in some retail therapy, but it is not a good idea. Life is so expensive these days. My trip to Bologna (to the International Society of Music Educators conference) is going to cost me a lot (even with the airfare paid for), and is not something I had budgeted for. Maybe instead I will watch a DVD. I have an Italian postwar realist film out from the library at the moment. Might settle in with that on my computer.

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