Joe was almost late to 2nd period today because, as he said, he had to go from the In-School Suspension room all the way to his locker, then back to the band room.  When I asked why he had been sent to ISS, he said, “Mrs. Milton sent me there from English class.”

“Why?” I asked.

“‘Cause me and Mrs. Milton don’t get along too well.”

“That would be, ‘Mrs. Milton and I.’  No wonder she sent you out,” I said with a smile.

The end of the school year is approaching fast.  We gave our Spring Concert this past Tuesday, and all went well.  In fact, when I asked the students the next day what they thought of it, Philip said, “It was a punch in the face of awesome, followed by a chocolate coating of amazing!”  Great description.

During our pre-concert rehearsal, I commented to the students that I would really enjoy sitting in the audience and listening during the concert.  At this, one tall, quiet saxophone player chose that moment to open up and say, “Go ahead.  I’ll direct the band for you.  There isn’t much to it, is there?  I mean, really, how hard could it be?”  But, then, this was the same student who thought the little yellow bird in the Peanuts comic strip is named Woodchuck.

Wednesday after school we had our last 5th grade lesson of this school year.  We have had one lesson each week for the past four or five weeks as a way to give the kids a head start for next year’s Cadet Band.  While most of the students have seemed eager to try this new adventure, a few of them have surprised me with their tendency to just give up.  For instance, a percussionist didn’t seem to understand the connection between the notes on the page and the keys on his bells kit, so he interrupted me to say, “I don’t get it.”

“You don’t get what?” I replied.

“This…” he said, sort of waving his hands toward his instrument and music.  “I don’t get… this!”

“Yet,” I responded.  He just looked at me.

“You don’t get this… yet!”  I said again.  “Don’t give up so easily.  Let’s start from the beginning and try to see how the patterns in the music relate to the patterns on the bells.”

With that, we jumped right in, and a couple minutes later, the light seemed to go on.  Yes, the rest of the class had to wait, but they did so patiently.  And maybe in the process, a couple other students had some confusions cleared up, as well.

This drummer had seemed pretty frustrated.  And I was wondering how he could have failed to understand all of my lucid instructions.  But I’ve learned that sometimes, in addition to good instruction, some students just need a lot of encouragement.  So, when a student tells me, “I can’t do it,” or “I don’t get it,” I always respond with “…yet!”  It’s my way of trying to change their despair into hope.  After all, as I told my 5th graders, our middle school Spring Concert would not have been so good if those students had just given up a couple years ago.


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Mark on May 18, 2012 at 8:43 am

    I think you meant to say at the end… “our middle school Spring Concert would NOT have been so good…”

    At least you know I’m actually reading…. and enjoying.


    • Thanks for the help – much appreciated. I read this thing over several times and still missed that mistake.

      And I’m glad you liked it 🙂


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