5th Grade Compliment

Sometimes, when I am very lucky, I get to spend my work day out and about. The company I work for sends me on short (not like the last trip!) day trips to area schools. We usually take 3-4 people, a couple of instruments (one each, to be honest), some fantastic binders full of music well cataloged and organized and go play concerts for the children.

Today I went out to a school about 30 minutes away. Very easy drive. It was only foggy and snowing fast. I shrug scornfully. I and my colleagues played six 50 minute concerts for 5th and 6th graders. As always, it was a delightful experience and right up my alley. Teaching these kids about hand frames, Handel, King George I, and early jazz as anticipated by Scott Joplin the Ice Cream Truck Song Man, how better could I spend my day?

The fun part isn’t the ache in my back because I have now played a string instrument for 7 hours today. It’s not the moment when I forget I’m playing viola and auto pilot over to treble clef just long enough to derail my colleagues. The music is great, but honestly not meant for upper string trio, so that is not the fulfilling and fantastic bit. It’s the kids. The children are enthusiastic, bright eyed, and quite frankly perfectly hilarious. I have a long list of funny moments, but I want to record and share today’s.

This one needs no introduction.

Thalia: Do you guys know what opera is?
Child (dubiously): I know who Oprah is…..
Thalia: I suppose the spectacle and emotionalism could be similar… but…
(teacher cracking up, totally doubled over in a corner)

One of the classes was a fantastic audience. They were enthusiastic and excited, but still respectful and attentive. They were bright, had intriguing answers and logical questions. And oh, I tell you, their final applause brought tears to my over sensitive eyes. I looked at my colleagues and said, “We should bow for them. They were lovely.” The children hooted and clapped some more while we bowed. Now, after 18 years of violin playing and bowing, I have to say, I’m pretty good at it. That sounds funny, but it’s a skill to bow gracefully. This skill I and my colleagues posses. We rose, bowed, and sat with synchronized perfection. A hush fell on the class. A child in the back spoke in an awed voice.

“Whoa. You’re ninjas.”

Uh Huh. Oh yeah. Ninjas.


5 thoughts on “5th Grade Compliment

  1. I love this. I will heretofore think every time I go on stage to bow: I am a ninja. Also, I think there is an orchestra marketing campaign in there somewhere.

  2. I took Suzuki piano lessons for a few years as a kid, and our teacher taught us to bow by counting to four in Japanese. NINJA BOWS! Also, I still can’t go to a symphony concert without fighting the urge to follow the concert master when he (and the rest of the strings) stands up at the end of the concert to acknowledge the audience’s applause.

    My youth symphony did a program called Symphony Day, in which we played a series of concerts for local 4th graders. My favorite memory of doing that was the one year we played the Star Wars theme. The swell of excited whispers after our conductor announced that as our next piece was really delightful.

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