Monday, 23 August 2010

New Term, New Start

My new term began today, so the shock to the system is just kicking in, and I am feeling healthily tired! I shudder when I think back 20 years, to those idiotic days when I would teach from 8.30am until 8.30pm, run a rehearsal, then have a complicated and exhausting conversation with a tricky 17 year old. This I did, for six days a week. Why, I wonder, am I so tired now in my late 50's! I think in 25 years of teaching, I actually worked 35 years in teaching time.

Nowadays, after a day like today with a measly 7 pupils, I am ready to turn up my proverbial toes, retire to my incredibly comfortable memory foam mattress and sleep the sleep of the dead !

Today was a very good day for all sorts of reasons, but mostly because an especially talented young teenage girl, whom I have taught from the age of 7, returned to lessons after a difficult break. Many 'newly crowned' teenagers go through a lean and dark patch but mostly they clamber through it and still manage to come each week. Sometimes, if I am really lucky, they even raise a reluctant smile, although that is not a requirement when the mega grump hormones are on the zoom!

This particular young lady has had a horrid time over the last 2 years and simply collapsed and caved in with pressure and burn out. I truly did not know if she would return. Thank the Lord, over the summer holidays she began to miss her singing, which had been so much a part of her life, and instead of feeling embarrassed, or awkward, in her own true and brave style she got in touch with me and asked to return!!

It was a great joy to have her once again in the music room, looking happy and well and as if she were ready to take on the world. She is a true performer, and I hope that the 8 month 'blip' is well and truly behind her, and that she can regain the joy she always felt about her singing.

More often than not, the more bolshie a teenager is, the more I love the challenge, and the more I feel that if I work hard enough, I can get through all that bluster and angst.

In my many many many years of being a willing victim of the 3 T's, that is 'teenage teaching torture', I steel myself, and experience the trail of furious destruction left behind the explosive anger. Then, as quickly as it came it is gone, the lion becomes the lamb, calm is restored and the aforementioned disaster trail leaves all innocent adults within hailing distance, electronically shredded.

The youthful perpetrator picks up the threads of a mature, normal, polite and happy life as if absolutely nothing has happened. Indeed with a certain amount of incredulity if one is crass enough to mention they might ever have been less than model offspring/students ! Battle over, battle won, breathe again.

I look forward to picking up those musical threads and seeing young C recover, progress and fulfil her potential. She has won a number of prizes in Music Festivals over the years, and one particular class sticks in my mind. She was singing a rather lovely, but slightly 'wandering' Scottish folksong, which, at the best of times was a tricky melodic line to hold, especially unaccompanied. By verse 2 the tune had completely evaded her, and so, like a real pro, she just improvised and made it up on the spot. It was an odd moment of genius. She sang with total conviction, kept the key and brought the song home with aplomb and gravitas. Not a soul, except myself and the adjudicator (who had the music!) knew there was anything amiss, so convincing and heartfelt was the solo!

Welcome back C, let's go!

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