A Special Moment

          About two weeks ago, my third grade recorder students, along with my fourth and fifth grade chorus put on their first Spring Concert under my direction. Before accepting this position, I was a middle school chorus and general music teacher, so this was a first for me. Working for and trusting me to lead them for this concert was a first for them, also, so there was a lot of trust involved. We did two shows, one for the students and teachers of our school during the day, and the actual concert that night for the parents and families. Both performances went well (though the nighttime concert was a bit smoother) and I have received nothing but positive feedback from my principal, the parents, and the kids.

I was expecting behavior issues from some students and a few minor logistical issues, but I was definitely not ready for the moment that I had with a third grade recorder student before the start of the evening performance. As the principal and I were calling all of the recorder players up to the stage to take their places, one little boy passed us and he was clearly upset – eyes and face were red, tears were on his cheeks. This particular young man happens to be on the spectrum, so I was especially concerned and approached him as he took his spot. I asked him if he was alright, and he assured me that he was.

I walked away but a few minutes later noticed that he was still visibly upset. I led him off the stage (this was before we had officially started the program) and behind the curtain where I had stashed a bottle of water for such situations. I let him take a couple of sips before letting him know that it is perfectly normal to be nervous during a concert and that it was all going to be great, especially since we had already practiced during the daytime performance. This young man looked me right in the eyes, with tears still streaming down his cheeks and said, “Ms. M., I’m not upset because I’m nervous, I’m crying because I’m just so happy!” With that, he grabbed his recorder, tears still falling, and scurried back to his spot on stage.

This little boy’s comment just about knocked the wind out of me – I had to stay behind the curtain for a moment to recompose myself before walking back out. I made sure to let the principal in on the moment that I had just had, and tears filled her eyes as well. Our student’s pure joy and excitement at the prospect of performing was overwhelming – for him AND for me! What a reassuring comment for a new elementary teacher to hear, even if this boy didn’t realize it. This special moment is one of those little gems that remind us that what we do makes a difference and that it has a purpose. When I shared what happened with his mom last week, she assured me that her son would not forget the concert and his music teacher; I assured her that I would not be forgetting her son and the moment that he shared with me!

Have you ever had one of those moments at a concert or at any other time? Please share your experiences in the comments below!

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8 responses

  1. My first job was in a small country school K-12 with around 200 students. I was the entire music program: K-5 elementary music, 5th grade band, 6th grade band, 7-12 band, junior high choir and high school choir. When I first got there, the band had 14 kids, mostly drums, flutes and saxophones. By the 3rd year, I had 38 kids in the band and we got a I at State. At 5 years, the school board declined to offer me a tenure contract. I was really bummed, but I moved on. A few weeks ago, a student found me on Facebook and told me I was the best music teacher she ever had. I was humbled to the dust. I just got in touch through Facebook with another favorite student. Teaching music is the gift that keeps on giving. Congrats, Julie, on your first successful elementary concert. I know it’s the first of many. And store up all those memories.

    1. Miss Leslie,

      That is so wonderful that you have recently reconnected with students from your past! I still see all of the students that I taught when I first started, so I look forward to reconnecting with them in the future as well! Teaching music really is a special gift – I am so thankful everyday that I get to call this my job!

      Thanks again for reading and for your kind words!

      Best,
      Julie

  2. Great story Julie! Thank you for sharing it with us.

    A special moment I had was at spring band concert many years ago. A 6th grade girl, who played clarinet, had been diagnosed with cancer. She had missed her entire 6th grade year. She was home and in remission, but still did not have the immune system to fight off the germs of a reed instrument. I secretly practiced the bell part with her at her house. The night of the concert I told the student right before we entered the gym that Amy was going to play with us. Everyone was in tears when Amy’s dad brought her out. Amy had to wear a mask, but everyone could tell she was smiling. She got home from the concert and couldn’t sleep for hours. She told her parents she felt like a star. Sadly, Amy’s cancer returned, she never returned to school. She passed away a few months after the performance.

    Years later, I had another 6th grade girl clarinetist diagnosed with cancer. She also missed a great deal of school. It was a very special moment seeing her return to the band. That student was my daughter. She is now in my high school band. Healthy, happy, and cancer free!

    1. WOW, Steve – thank you so much for sharing that story with me!

      Amy sounded like a wonderful girl – kudos to your for coming up with a way to keep her a part of the band, even through her sickness.

      I was definitely not expecting the second young lady in your story to be your own daughter, but I am SO glad to hear that she is doing so well! I can only imagine your feelings, having gone through that once before with a student. Your young lady also sounds incredibly strong and is lucky to have a dad like yourself!

      Best,
      Julie

  3. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story. So encouraging and sounds like you’re doing wonderful things at your school with your students.
    I actually had a special experience today. I work at a Title I school with many underprivileged students who often do not get many cultural or “big picture” experiences in life. Two weeks ago I took 5 students to our county-wide honors choral clinic and concert to join voices with 100 other students at the elementary schools in our district. Today one of those students, who is moving up to the middle school next year, came to me to ask about whether there is such a thing at state chorus or a middle school county chorus clinic. As I answered her and looked her in the face there was an unsaid but understood meaning behind her questions and I knew that for this sweet girl that clinic and concert had struck a chord in her heart and ignited a passion for music. I was so pleased to have shared this experience with her and to encourage her to keep singing 🙂

    1. Hi Claire,

      What a great experience! I remember how much those all-county and all-state experiences meant to me when I was that age, so I can only imagine what it means to children that are not used to such experiences. Kudos to you for giving them that opportunity – sounds like you are truly making a difference!

      Best,
      Julie

  4. That’s a lovely story. It’s so important to get these reminders of how exciting it is for some children to learn music, learn to play an instrument that they might always have thought would be out of reach for them. Well done to you!

    1. Thank you! Those moments are especially wonderful when they come from those special children – it truly does reaffirm the importance of music in all of our lives!

      Julie

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