It’s time to get back to the roots of The Inspired Classroom. Although I will be posting other material as well, the arts are calling and I must heed their call.
So first, a story:
The year was 1992 and I, a young freshman in high school was on a band trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania. (I was in the Color Guard.) On one of the stops, a group of friends and I grabbed lunch in a local mall and then went shopping in a few stores. There was a store full of t-shirts and we wandered in. Racks upon racks lay in front of us. One rack in particular caught my eye. It was full of black t-shirts with the names of classic bands on them. Thinking I may impress a couple of older drummers on the trip, I walked over to the rack thinking I’ll get one. Little did I know I would find a shirt that would change me from the inside out! There it hung, black as night and shining, glittering silver swords and swirls all over, displaying the band’s name Led Zepplin and the word, “Let the music be your master.” I immediately grabbed, hemmed and hawed about buying it and finally decided I needed it.
It became a showpiece. I think I wore it only a few times in carefully selected company. Eventually, I thought it was a little uncool to be wearing a black t-shirt and replaced it with cuter stuff and although I shoved the shirt in the back of a dresser drawer, the words rang through my head and my heart: “Let the music be your master.” It was just so cool. I continued with my piano and listened to my rock and roll: the newer grunge and the great classics sprinkled in with a few pop tunes and hip hop faves that were just too catchy to ignore.
Music, after all is music, no matter what kind. If it gets you, it’s got you.
Months later, while listening to a Led Zep tape one of those drummers made for me, I heard those words sung in the song.
“Let the music be your master. Will you heed the master’s call?”
Those words, once found on the back of a t-shirt, sprung to life. They moved, in all their shimmer up off the cloth in my mind and swirled around into curling flames, moving and reaching through space.
I stopped the tape, rewound and played it again. How awesome. Until then I didn’t even know the words on that shirt were lyrics in a song.
In the years that followed, I continued my piano study and put all my heart and soul into it, practicing hours a day, taking additional lessons as I prepared the 15 required pieces for my final National Piano Teachers’ Guild audition and senior recital where I rocked the piano, harpsichord and organ. In my yearbook, next to my picture, I quoted Led Zep, “Let the music be your master.” I will heed the master’s call.
I enrolled in a music major program where I could continue learning all I could about music and applied it to my study of elementary education (my other major). Since I wasn’t in performance, I could focus my senior work on my own independent study of music integration. After finding my first job as a second grade teacher, I continued to heed the call by enrolling in an arts and learning graduate program where I was allowed to explore all the arts and the power they can have on my students and on me. My students and I listened to music and worked with the music, integrating it into what we did each day. In some ways, the music was leading me, guiding me through the school year. And the students and their parents loved it!
If you now fast forward 13 years later, heeding my master’s call has not only brought me to the music and arts-infused fourth grade class I teach or my own children who now get a mom-piano teacher, but it has led to this site, these resources, these books, these professional development opportunities, and now this post.
Every so often we lose our way. For me, in trying to find my balance at home and with family, I have forgotten what’s important to the work I have created here. What are at these roots? Music, art and inspiration. The stuff that gets me excited about life and learning. The stuff that makes me feel whole as a person and as a teacher.
Too often I see people who have lost that spark. They are not dead inside. That’s not what I’m talking about here. Instead, they just don’t have the opportunity to feed that flame inside of them. Myself included. We get busy, distracted and confused about what is the right thing to do. Every so often we need a kick in the pants.
So, guess what? While cleaning out a closet today I found that t-shirt. Kick. And I send that kick on to you!