"... and i like to be the one
be that as it may, i apologize for my disappearing act lo these many weeks. it's not as if i had nothing to write about. i have three topics to choose from tonight, the other two will follow shortly, to make up for my remission.
eeny meeny, which one shall i choose? maybe i should just go chronologically, sort-of. because, strictly speaking, the last could be the first...
i was very excited a few weeks ago to hear that, for the first time, my Parks and Rec class for young writers was a "go". we had never had enough register before, and just squeaked through this time, with four.
the initial thrill was followed directly by panic. it would be the first time i had taught an extended course to a group of young people. on the surface, it might seem this was an over-reaction. career child care worker, experienced songwriter and teacher of same, no worries, right?
yet i was worried. adults and young people come from different planets, and sometimes i feel like a part-time visitor to both. how would the teens' class differ, and how should i change my preparation for it?
i thought about it for a week, without coming up with an answer. so wednesday after supper i drove over to the hockey rink, found our room locked but ajar (bonus! it's such a hassle trying to find the guy to open up), got out my usual notes and hoped for the best.
the kids showed up, half with parents, half without, all about the same age i think, early high school, three girls, one boy.
the first difference i noted was their ability to concentrate on the job at hand. write a full page first thing? no problem. i was impressed.
i had to tell them a couple of times not to put up their hands. adults don't do that.
the other thing i soon realized was pace: things move much more quickly. bang bang. we got through two hours of exercises and discussion with twenty minutes left. what to do? delving into next week's lesson would be dangerous.
so i decided to ask them to help me edit the song i had just written, which needed a bit of tweaking. i was meeting with my writers' group the next night, where it would probably be fixed to my satisfaction, but i thought, "what the heck?". give them a taste of lessons to come, might be a fun exercise.
well folks, it was more than that. they threw out some suggestions, we played with them a bit, and hey presto, i had a much-improved song. there was nothing for my fellow writers to help me with the next night.
so i left that class with a very good feeling, but knowing that i had some work to do if i was to keep up with them and give them all they could take in. they were hungry for it.
the major problem i saw was that participation levels were very different than in the adult class. in any group of students, you will have a range of participation. with adults however, the range is narrower. everyone has something to say, or ask, occasionally.
in my class of four teens, however, i have two extremes. two kids are very talkative - if i don't keep them talking songwriting, they're talking about something else. one girl has the odd thing to say, mostly encouraged by her growing friendship with the most talkative girl. the last girl volunteers almost nothing.
i was careful from the beginning to assure the kids that they didn't have to share what they wrote in class, but i assumed that they would each present something, sometime.
the quiet one seems content enough, she's writing and paying attention, so i assume she's getting something out of it.
and they all came back for week two, which is great, especially since it was a school night during exams.
if this was an adult class, tomorrow we would be continuing to expand our ideas through exercises and tips, talk more about structure and how to build the song after growing the parts organically.
but the kids and i are going to write something together. it will be chaotic, but i think they'll dig it. it will be fun, even if it crashes and burns.
wish me luck. i'll be back at you soon with topic #2 - my glorious DIY weekend.