Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Gender Issues

Yesterday I taught two of my youngest pupils. A blond haired explosion of an 8 year old boy, and a self contained 7 year old little girl. They are both in the same primary school, and come from the same village. Talk about chalk and cheese!

Young H is as opposite in almost every way to little K as it is possible to be, and still live on planet earth, and my approach to teaching them is as different as if I were teaching a erudite nun from one of the abbeys to which I go, and a lead singer in the coolest rock band of the moment !

H whirls into the music room with all the energy of a newly woken up baby chimp, and K comes in with a slight reticence and much polite decorum! They both have parents and grandparents who are invaluable in helping the learning process, and they are both bright as proverbial buttons.

So what do I do with each child.

One of the things I have learnt over the years is that boys need to be pushed in a sporty and competitive way - which can be something of a challenge within the constraints of a music room and singing lesson, so I have devised lots of 'exercises' which they can perform at the same time as singing their scales - we get out a chair, and he sits and stands to command, sometimes fast sometimes slow, he marches in time (all the while singing a descending scale you understand !) and he performs 'sit ups' until I see the healthy red glow of energy levels dissipating, and only then do we tackle the infinitely more tricky element of standing still and singing actual songs. He becomes very excited the higher we sing, and when his explosive energy is waning he then becomes excited about the more 'thinking' part of the lesson, and the story line of 'Never Smile at a Crocodile' ! Brainwork indeed when you are 8, and raw male liveliness is coursing through you like a faster than usual bullet !

Young K is completely self possessed when she walks rather sedately into the room, we start straight away with songs as her 'small girl' vocal ability does not yet allow for a wide octave scale, boys on the whole have a much greater top range than girls - hence boy choristers - and little K needs no working up to standing still, and no preliminary energy sapping exercises, infact I get the feeling she would think I was quite mad if I suggested it! Completing the song she learnt during last week perfectly in both lyrics and melody is reward enough ! She needs coaxing to take risks, and cajoling to be brave and sing loudly, young H needs shh - ing when the loud gene kicks in, K needs the ff gene positively activated. Little girls want to please, both me and themselves, and right from the word go, perfection is the goal. They have to learn a hard lesson when perfection is clearly not possible in this life! K sings with quiet precision, and with brain engaged from the 1st note. H needs his brain prompting, and his abandoned spontaneity curbed by the exercise regime!

They are both an absolute delight to teach, and so different in all ways, that the expression 'chalk and cheese' falls short by about 3 miles!

The songs they sing are just great, and having not started singing lessons myself until I was 13 years old, I relish with a passion those early songs which I seriously missed out upon. Deprived child you see!

Many thanks to aforementioned parents and grandparent, for allowing me to fulfill my little fantasy world of fantastic junior songs! And you pay me!

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