The Black Violin duo. A few years ago, a student showed me a youtube video. I latched onto the two musicians because, well, because they're black. I'm always on the lookout for inspirational videos for my urban youth. I liked their music alright, so when I heard they were going to be performing in Lawrence, I thought, I'm there! I had no expectations, good or bad, going in and, WOW, they blew me away.
They spoke about their upbringing in an inner city school. They raved about their h.s. orchestra teacher that made a difference for them and who helped them land a full ride to college. They talked about how that teacher was a father figure to them, and even taught one of them how to drive. They described their journey creating their own thing, outside of the box, bridging classical music with other popular styles. They spoke on how they are often stereotyped based on their size, and skin color.
That resonated with me. You can't judge a book by its cover. Get to know what's going on with people, before you make a judgement. This concept of breaking stereotypes embraces so many issues we are experiencing in our world today.
Its bigger than race. I read and hear people that are upset about the Black Lives Matter movement. They say, but All Lives Matter. (I agree with that sentiment), but when somebody is supporting a Save the Whales campaign, I don't hear anyone complaining that all animals matter Save All The Animals. Of course, all animals matter. But perhaps the Whales need some attention, and some global awareness of the issue. Breaking the stereotypes.
I just can't get enough of Black Violin and their message.
And then, I realized one of my greatest professional fears. What if I have a potential Black Violin duo in my music room, and I'm not serving them? Whether it be, stifling their creativity because of my inflexible lesson plans....or turning them away because I'm nagging on their behavior...or not differentiating my lesson for someone who needs extra time and accommodation...or not creating enough of a challenge for those students ready to excel...or killing someone's enjoyment in my room because of a flippant comment made in the wrong tone of voice...or this....or that.......
I keep thinking of a particular tough class where the struggle is REALZ. Crap hit the fan for some of my trouble-makers this week. I had students crossing my door's threshold, literally, dragging themselves and audibly groaning at the start of another day in band. It broke me. How did this happen?
I came home from Black Violin's concert last night, in tears. Don't get me wrong, I had a great time, and their show was worth every penny. But my inner peace was completely destroyed.
Superman had to practically talk me off the ledge. Telling me:
Your classroom isn't going to be like a movie. You're not Mr. Holland. You can't reach every kid.
Its not my first rodeo. I know I'm not going to reach every kid. But for some reason, I'm really really struggling.
But I have to turn back to my mantra - the reality of how I'm thriving.
Gratitude - Thankful for and remember the lessons that Black Violin taught me this week.
Acceptance - I can't do everything, I can't solve every problem, I can't save every kid.
Healing - Take care of myself first, and my students will ultimately benefit.