Last night we went to the Monbulk Secondary School Music Performance. Helen and her friend, Claire, were both performing - Helen on keyboard, Claire singing. The girls had been practising like crazy for days - locked in Helen's room after school and coming out only for sustenance (chocolate muffins, hot chips, toasted cheese sandwiches, hot chocolates, rice crackers - hey, I've contributed to this performance!)
There are a few teachers who help the kids every year - either conducting the band, or smaller versions of the college band, or splinter groups. Now, I normally take it for granted that a teacher will do this. But last night I really looked around me. What I saw were particular teachers matching their involvement to their students needs.
One teacher had written a drum duet for two student drummers. Duelling drums. Another calmly told his brass band to start again when they faltered and it was only his steadfast presence that allowed them to begin again and forget the audience and their own fears.
The scatty and delightful Ms B. has her own way of soothing nervous performers - and bringing out the best in them. She's so much one of them, no one can be nervous - but of course, all that changes when she plays. But by then they are calm and with her completely.
Mr S with the Dylanesque greying curls had tutored a small band, electric guitars, beautiful singer. He made sure everything was in place before they began. If there was faulty equipment he kind of shrugged, did his best to replace it, then got on with it. He trusted the band. They trusted him. The girl, Sally, who sang had amazing phrasing and confidence in her own range. It was great.
'Trust me' I tell my students every year, every semester, every chance. Trust me. I know this blank page, I know these recalcitraint words, the critic on your shoulder, your procrastination deals, your fears. I know how much you hate this story, this novel, this poem. I hate mine, too.
Each year you sit metaphorically behind some student ready to play the sleigh bells and they open their mouths and belt out a completely different song.
You say, yeah mama! And go back to teach another year. Makes it all worth while.