The most delightful thing just happened.
I was late for lunch, because it’s the week before concert week, and I’ve been making up the classes that I missed last week when I was sick. Like, really sick. Vomiting sick. The only kind of sick that would keep a music teacher from her students two weeks before the first big concert of the year. So I forfeited the dearest part of my day (lunch, of course) to rehearse with the students who missed their classes while I was busy vomiting.
Therefore, when I finally had a few minutes to breathe, the cafeteria was closed. I was devastated. Yes, I had vaguely suspected such an atrocity might occur, but it was a chance I had been willing to take. I knew I had to risk missing those tantalizing beef kabobs for the sake of the concert cause. And the children, of course. The children.
So there I was at the cafeteria counter, gushing with gratitude when the kitchen staff agreed to prepare a plate for me (bless them bless them bless them), and I saw a whole pile of kids sitting around the picnic tables outside, with nary a teacher in sight.
“This is perfect!” I thought. “I have someone to sit with while I eat my lunch!” And so I did.
I sat down, right in the middle of all the little ducklings. They were stunned, but pleased. I heard some of the children calling out each other’s names in a rhythmic sort of way, and I mused out loud, “Hmm! Sounds like someone wants to bake a cake!” And I started to sing.
You see, we’ve been working on our singing voices in music class. We’ve been singing a song called “Bake a Cake,” where the class asks people what they’re going to put in the cake, and they provide the ingredients with their singing voices. We started with normal things like butter, sugar and flour:
Sarah, Sarah, what do you plan to add to the cake in the mixing pan?
I have butter for the cake! Stir it up and let it bake!
You have butter for the cake! Stir it up and let it bake!
The next week we added some some silly things, like crayons, stickers, or socks: “I have socks for the cake! Stir it up and let it bake!”
And today, all of the sudden, I found myself singing the “Bake a Cake” song with a whole swarm of eight-year-olds while devouring my beef kabobs.
Rita, Rita, what do you plan to add to the cake in the mixing pan?
And do you know what Rita answered? Well, I don’t remember exactly, but it was something like markers, or books, or hair. Because Rita’s silly like that. And the whole class spontaneously joined in the refrain:
You have books for the cake! Stir it up and let it bake!
Well, then I picked someone else to add something to the cake. I sang my question sweetly, and they sang their silly answer sweetly back, and the whole class sang the sweet, silly refrain. And before I knew it, the game had taken on a life of its own. The students started choosing each other to add things to the cake. No one fought over whose turn it was. No one used a shouting voice, or even a speaking voice. Sweetly they sang, adding all sorts of delectable things to the musical confectionary. They added feet, mustangs, germs, and people; Douaa added Rita to the cake; someone else added the entire book fair, and another added the entire school. Everyone was giggling and singing and smiling, leaning in toward me and my irrelevant kebobs with rapt attention. Finally they ran out of people to contribute to the singing cake, so they turned to me. Everyone froze. The anticipation was electrifying. What would Ms. Regehr add to the mixing pan? What could she possibly think of that was more marvelous than dumping a whole book fair into a cake?
I have Ms. Davis for the cake! Stir it up and let it bake!
Oh, the giggles. Imagine, putting your teacher in a cake! The hilarity! The singing got a little less sweet, and the giggles got a little more giggly, and the whole thing was beginning to border on a feverish, culinary shouting exchange. I had to switch things up to our “Good King Leopold” game, in which the children could only cross my musical kingdom if they used their whispering voices. Which they did, fervently, whispering as they had never whispered before. I bestowed my royal favour on them, and they pretended they were running through my kingdom, and along came Ms. Davis herself, in the flesh. I shut things down with a wave of my regal arm, and Ms. Davis looked at me in utter bafflement, with a bit of a smile, and off everyone trooped to their Normal Everyday Duties.
I sat at the picnic table, polishing off my kebabs in the sunshine, and I thought, “I was made for this. I belong here. These children belong here. Our music belongs here. This is what a song is supposed to do in the life of a child.”
I’m so glad it’s the week before concert week, and I had to squeeze in six classes back to back, very nearly going a day without lunch. I’m so glad that the little songsters in Ms. Davis’s class were at the cafeteria getting their pictures taken at 1:40pm, and that they had time to hang out with an old music teacher scarfing down her lunch. Lessons, report cards, rehearsals, and concerts — these things come and go in constant, sometimes mind-numbing, rotation; but singing! Laughing! Music! The melodies that take the happiest parts of us and bring them bubbling out our mouths… This is what the best days of our lives are made of.
Never stop singing, my ducklings. Your voices shape our world.
Who will join me? GWA is currently searching for teachers for the 2017-2018 school year. The school offers a competitive salary, relocation funds for flights, international health insurance and access to professional development funds. Interested? Check out our YouTube channel. Candidates can begin the process by applying online at: www.gwa.ac.ma/HR.