~"Without music to decorate it, time is just a bunch of boring production deadlines or dates by which bills must be paid.."~ Frank Zappa
We are a family that loves music. Someone is always either singing along, listening to it...and on rare occasions playing it on an instrument. It is part of the cacophany that makes up the sound track of our home. Now, you might think that this passion for music would carry over to music class at school-that my kids would be excited over learning new songs and singing in concerts-that the music teacher would be one of their favorite people at school. You would be wrong.
I don't know what it is-but it seems that every elementary school music teacher we have dealt with, sucks the joy right out of music for my kids...sucks it dry..I know it sounds harsh..and I'm betting that many parents in our little school would disagree with me..And yes-I own my shame at hating to attend school concerts...at thinking xylophone solo's of Jingle Bells (that sound like funeral dirges) are one of Dante's unwritten circles of hell. I own that-I do! I watch the other parents at these concerts and they look so happy-joyful...rapturous even!...and all I can think .."Is it me? Or is everyone else on drugs?" Because really-hearing the same songs (and they do feel like the same songs) sung every year by a bunch of kids in a room where their are noise reduction tiles on the ceiling makes me want to....well, chewing tinfoil would be more fun. But-I am an adult .I'm not going to spoil what is a special occasion for these kids. I dutifully go to each performance-and praise my kids when they are done.(I praise other things as well).
My boys had their "musical moments" in grade school- Oscar was actually pretty entertaining to watch in concert...but my girls? My girls are struggling. This week-Lily auditioned for "concert choir" and did not get in. Now, that is fine. She was prepared for it either way. She knew that their was room for only a few-and was willing to take a chance.I was proud of her for trying...but you would THINK that our music teacher would use a little tact in how she told her! "I only take the best-and their really weren't that many good singers this year." What-is she Simon Cowell? Hey-thanks for crushing my ten year old girls spirit! Seriously-that would be like my saying to her- "Our small town would really love a world class music program-but we could only afford you." But I didn't. I thought about it though...I thought it real hard at her as she passed me in the hallway. I'll admit, I may be a little bit touchy when it comes to music this year-and especially this particular teacher...but I have my reasons..
My Zoe loves to sing-and there is nothing quite like hearing her belt out "Blowing in the Wind" along with Bob Dylan on her C.D. player...But at school? At school my girl is quiet...sometimes even mute. Noise, loud sounds-chaos really bother her. She doesn't always hear very well in noisy situations and it makes her anxious. Music class is torture for her. I can't tell you exactly how many "sick" days she took last year-that coincidentally happened to fall on days that she had music. Or how many times she came home( on music class days) and slept for 15 hours straight...or cried inconsolably for hours...So this year, we had a plan. She has a great team behind her, and we made certain via her IEP that her disability was taken into consideration. Except it wasn't. No, my girl was coming home on music days and just falling apart..Only she wouldn't/couldn't/didn't tell me why. I come to find out that Zoe(as were all the kids) was being made to sing solo-in front of the class. Only she couldn't-because as she told me "nothing would come out." She was made to do this because the music teacher...forgot. Forgot that my girl had a plan in place...forgot that this little one-who inwardly PANICS at being singled out-made to perform-speak yet alone sing in front of people! she "forgot"...and what? Am I supposed to say "Oh that's o.k.?" I think not
There is a real issue with disability and schools. Especially for someone like my Zoe.. If she didn't have legs-no one would ask her to demonstrate dance steps. But, we aren't really "allowed" to discuss disability at school-and I think that we are doing a great disservice to people. especially those people who like my Zoe, don't outwardly appear to be struggling. If it isn't seen-it's easily forgotten. I was told we couldn't openly discuss disability at school because "Other parents aren't as open about it (disability) as you are." But you know? It isn't or shouldn't be about being open. Disability is not a sin-by not talking honestly and openly about it..makes it seem that way. How can we promote acceptance and inclusion...if we aren't accepting and inclusive? How can I be sure that this doesn't happen to Zoe again?
In the meantime...Lily seems to have gotten over her disappointment over not making concert choir, and Zoe..well, she took a "personal day"..but-ASKED (via card) to be excused from music yesterday!! Way to go Zoe! So we will spend this weekend enjoying the music my family makes....there will be no xylophones.