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Are we there yet?

Oh, Gary. If only you knew...

My kids are really not ready for their band concert today. In fact, for the first time ever, I wanted to cancel a concert. I explained it in a way that I thought would make sense: This is my assessment, and in a grade-level classroom, if students aren't ready for the assessment, you push it back and review. I hoped it would be relatable (and honestly, sound better than, "These kids are really bad at this still and I don't want them to be discouraged/embarrassed/start to hate making music, oh, and this is not the level of performance I want associated with me because I'm a professional musician with standards."

Long story short, we're still having a concert today.

But here's the rub - because I am a professional musician with standards of performance I hold myself to, and because I want these kids to love making music, no one will know that they're not ready. No one will know that I cried in my classroom when I was told that we couldn't cancel the concert. No one will know that I couldn't sleep last night. All the audience will see is an "open rehearsal" where I'm teaching the audience about teaching band and learning how to play an instrument.

"That sounds like a super cool idea," you're saying. OF COURSE IT IS. I know how to make a performance great, but my trouble is this - I am the one making this concert a success, not the kids. For me, a concert is not about me, it's not "The Mrs. Windisch Show." It's about the students and the material. It's kids experiencing the joy that comes from performing well. It's about honoring the work of composers and arrangers by presenting impeccably. It's not about me or my instruction - it's the hard work the students put in to get to a performance.

I'm disappointed because the kids aren't putting in the work - they haven't since the start. A semester in, and I've yet to convince them that you don't learn to play an instrument through magic and osmosis. A part of me actually wants the kids to fail hard at this - I'm a human, I can be vindictive. "See kids, I can't play your instrument for you." But I can't let them. I can't because ego, and I can't because I want to encourage and nurture.

I've given myself all the platitudes and niceties, and my colleagues keep telling me, "it's going to be great." And it will.

But for the first time in all of my teaching, I'm just looking forward to this concert being done.


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