Okay, so A said I shouldn't rant about this because I'm a professional, but I feel that's exactly why I do have to rant about it. I'm a professional ranter!
So to clue you all in, the new term for one of the schools where I teach restarts next week and I've been chasing up parents to see if they are still partaking of the old music classes. Well, I've had lots of replies and they are all very nice and what not, and then I get one that makes me want to scream.
Okay, so I'm not going to include the whole email in here, just snippets of the most enraging bits. So they start off all nice, thanking me for the emails and stuff and saying that they enjoy the class. Then I get the first question which still baffles me now.
"Is there a reason why your classes focuses on unusual instruments kids are unlikely to encounter in their daily lives."
Okay, let's break it down. I teach 18 months to 5 years. What instruments are they likely to encounter in their daily lives? And what is unusual about shakers, tambourines, triangles, cymbals and Guiros?
They follow up with this gem:
"I wondered if there would be as much or more benefit and enjoyment hearing instruments like the flute, glockenspiel, the recorder, the clarinet, drums and the regular percussion instruments."
Okay. I say again, they are all under 5. How much money do they think I have? I have to carry everything myself. And what the hell is a 'regular' percussion instrument? Besides, you can't just presume every music teacher - especially one working with Early Years - plays a clarinet or a flute. They are lucky - or not so lucky - in that I do own and play a flute, albeit very badly, and I also own a glockenspiel which I will take in when I teach them about pitch. But really, you can't just presume a self-employed music teacher has access to these kinds of instruments and/or the money to buy them. Besides, I want to introduce the children to instruments they can play themselves, rather than having to sit and listen to me play. Because where is the benefit in that?
"It would be great to have the children be able to listen to music they hear at home and perhaps consciously or subconsciously start to pick out instruments they can hear in that music or better still ignite an interest in a particular instrument from an young age?"
Erm, I'm not there to teach them an instrument. If you want a private lesson, it's a lot more than you're paying me for this. I don't know what they want from me. I have a class of 9 kids that their child is in, and the ages range from 2 and a half to 4 and a half. I am there to get them involved and to get them excited about music, to maybe in the future learn an instrument, but come on. I do enough for my pay per session, including weekly emails after the lessons and progress reports and certificates. Not many extra curricular activities do that. And I've just had badges made up for when they leave for big school. And also, what music are they likely to hear at home? I play them music from all over the world and classical stuff too. But I'm not playing bob the freakin' builder or anything like that.
Then I get the ultimate slap in the face:
"Can rhythm and timing also be taught using well known instruments such as a miniature glockenspiel (easy to transport), the triangle, tambourine etc?"
If they had read any of the emails I sent them, they would know that the triangle and tambourines have already been used. They would also know that we have been working with the metronome - beautifully named Melvin - to keep a steady beat and to explore changing speeds. *Bashing my head against a brick wall*
They finish with:
"Just a thought.."
Really? Well it was a very lengthy thought and quite ridiculous for the most part. And it made me feel as if my weekly emails have been ignored. I literally don't know what more I can do, but I can tell you right now, I will not be bringing in my flute, that really will put them off music, for life.
There's always one and it always annoys to buggery. What's even more irritating is the fact that this particular child has very little language but was able to say 'Guiro' by the end of the term. An achievement and an unusual percussion instrument......And he loves me to bits. I get hugs and kisses every week. He sits next to me every class and he calls me Mummy. Don't worry, I didn't put that in the return email.
Annoyed and hungry. Bad combination.
That's all for now.