Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To Play and to Fight

When I am walking the halls of Hill Elementary, I'm likely to get unexpectedly broadsided with a hug from a student. I'm bad with names, but I am surprised how many of these children I know. Even now, near the end of the school year, students beg to take music lessons at Scrollworks. It's a relief to be able to tell them to come to their own school on Friday or Saturday afternoons for free lessons.

All of these children are treasures, but some of them have wormed their way into my heart. They are the ones who want to do music so badly that no obstacle is too great. The motto of Venezuela's El Sistema is 'Tocar y Luchar' -- to play and to fight. That's what these children are doing: fighting to play music. They come even if they don't hear their name called. They bring their music folder, battered and bent with shredded sheet music sticking out. They endure the teacher getting on them for not practicing when it really wasn't their fault. They persist even when they have no support at home. They try and try and keep trying. Ja'Cory. LaDeja. JaDerius. JahHara. DiMario. John. Brian. It's a long list. Almost as long as the list of difficulties they will have to overcome to succeed even in a small way. Given any kind of edge, these young musicians would blow some of their privileged suburban counterparts out of the water.

We are not giving them enough of an edge. We have accomplished some things. Just showing up every day, every week for a whole school year is significant to these children. Consistency is not common in their experience. But what these children need is more time to learn, practice, and play music and their own instruments. We're going to adjust and we're going to help these children--and as many more as we can--succeed in music and in life. The world will be better for it.


music teacher said...

What an inspiring post! These experiences are those that definitely motivate, us, music teachers to continue sharing our efforts for our students to learn music.

Thanks for sharing! Also, do visit this music teacher resources website.

Jahhara (: said...

Aww omg.! I was so young. :D