First, a bit of housekeeping, as it were. I’ve noticed, both here and on the devil facebook, that people often can’t tell how personal I am (or am not) being. Comments in both venues suggest that readers often think I’m talking about myself when I’m not, and just as often, they think I’m not talking about myself when I am. I’m here today to refuse to clear that up. It’s just as well that no one can tell if my mid-life crisis is actually mine, or whether or not a scary clown has whisked my missing husband off to North Dakota (you had to be there). I need to discuss all of my issues loudly in public, but I need my privacy. So don’t concern yourself too much with my truthiness.
Now, on to today’s topic, which I can tell you is really, truly true, because it is not about me, it’s about my ten-year-old.
At our school, 4th grade is the Year of the Recorder. Back in September, all of the 4th graders were required to purchase (cheap plastic) recorders. Help was available (from the PTA, I think) to purchase recorders for kids whose parents could not afford them. So everyone has a recorder and in their weekly or maybe twice weekly music classes, they’ve been learning to play them.
As far as I can see, the main purpose of recorder lessons is teaching the children how to read music. That most of the kids in the class already know how to read music because, like Little Bit, they’ve been taking piano lessons for years already, is of no consequence. Music reading must be taught. I get that. Not everyone has piano lesson opportunities and the school should teach that important skill. What I don’t get is why it is so sloooooowwwww.
After about a month and a half of school recorder lessons, the children have been taught to play four notes on their recorders. Four! They play very short, very simple songs with those four notes. They might play them better if they were allowed to bring their recorders home to practice, but they’re not, even though they bought the recorders and therefore own them. Are your “this is stupid” alarms going off yet?
It would be understating the truth severely to say that my daughter objects to this sort of stupidity, because she actually likes to learn stuff. Slooooooowwwwww recorder lessons are just the latest example of school idiocy negatively impacting her life.
Radical elitist that I am, I went to the music store and forked out the cash for another cheap plastic recorder that the music teacher doesn’t control. Hah! Sticking it to the Man, I am. Not only that, I bought Little Bit a teach-yourself-to-play-the-recorder book and turned her loose. That was Wednesday. Today is Friday. Now she can play two octaves worth of notes and has tooted her way through at least a dozen new songs, from Jingle Bells to Swing Low Sweet Chariot to Scarborough Fair. She hasn’t learned the sharps and flats yet, but there are still a few more days in this long weekend.
When LB goes back to school next week she will have to pretend she can only play four notes and dutifully perform Hot Cross Buns on command. If she lets the whole chromatic scale fly she may get suspended.