Sunday, September 29, 2013

Music: Reaching the Unreachable...All in Good Time


He was a 7 year old child with the mental ability of a 6 month old.  Yes, you read that right, a six MONTH old. I was asked to sit in on planning sessions for and about him because his parents had noticed he responded to music on the radio and TV. I created a musically stimulating plan of action. Over the course of the next year he responded, if not flourished. When music was a part of his day.
He was a defiant 5 year old who, when asked to join the class in the circle, told me I was "not his mother!" Class continued. Eventually the musical activities drew him into the circle and he edged himself between me and the child next to me. I just made a place for him and didn't say a word. I think he wanted to be a part of the action. Part of the music.
She was the shyest new student I'd ever met. She didn't talk much or smile, for that matter. In music she just sat and watched. I grew discouraged that no matter what I tried to do I could not reach her. Then one day I met her mother. Her mother said she couldn't keep the little girl from singing all the home. She thanked me for making her daughter so happy. With music.
Each year I took groups of children to sing carols at the local nursing home. I prepared them not only musically, but also for what they could expect from the residents there. I especially wanted them to understand that when we were in the Alzheimer's ward the residents might not respond, but that inwardly they would be "hearing" the music. One time as we sang a resident was singing loudly along with the children. I noticed the nurses and assistants talking together, pointing to the patient and some were wiping tears from their eyes. Soon a doctor arrived as though he'd been called in. You see, the first outward response this patient had made was to my children's singing Christmas carols. It was the music that got through to him.
Fast forward to yesterday.

I was sharing musical activities with a group of music teachers that they might use in their classrooms. One member of the group, perhaps in her 80s and a former child prodigy and professional concert performer, declined the packet of craft sticks I was handing out to everyone tersely telling me that she would just observe and add her comments to what I had to share. I told her I had enough for everyone and if she decided she wanted one she could have one. She said, "No, I will not be needing that." Well, I had to go on with my part and thought if she wanted to watch that was fine. She just reminded me of others (some mentioned above) that had not wanted to participate.

I finished my first activity waiting to see what she would add to the discussion. 


I collected the items, then went around and handed out a Baggie with some poker chips for a meter activity. 

I must admit I had to bite the inside of my cheek to keep from smiling as, when I got to her, she was holding out her hand.

I put the Baggie in her hand and went on with my presentation.

She participated in every activity after the first one and nothing was said other than a "That was fun!" at the very end.

Me, I just smiled.

Again, it was the music.
For you see, I have learned that some students, regardless of their age, make music in their own good time.  I have learned the lesson of patience and acceptance.

I have learned that music can reach the unreachable.

All in good time.

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