Figuring It Out While Rocking It Out



I’m ready to rock. After a long day in my classroom, I am looking forward to band practice tonight. We haven’t played together for five months. It should be fun, although the pressure is on because we just agreed to play a show two days from now.

I should be really nervous tonight. Instead of practicing on my drum set, I’ll be playing a cajon, which is one of those box-shaped percussion instruments that you sit on and play with your bare hands, not sticks. We’re getting ready for an acoustic set at an Irish pub on Saturday, so I’m borrowing the cajon, which will be a lot quieter than my regular drum set. I tried one out a little bit about three years ago, but that’s it. I really don’t know what I’m doing on it at all, but I’m not letting that stop me.

The reason I’m not nervous about trying to learn how to play a new instrument in front of the guys tonight is because they’re very forgiving and they know that it’s new to me. They won’t expect perfection. They know I’ll make mistakes tonight. Heck, they all know I’ll make mistakes when we play our show on Saturday. And I know that the only thing that’s worse than making mistakes playing a show is…not playing the show. I love that part of the DIY rock and roll ethic. Just do it.

It’s almost time to go, and now I’m thinking about my students at school. How do they feel when they’re on their way to school and they’re not ready for a test, or not ready to give a report to the class? How do they feel when they see their classmates do better than they do day after day after day?  Are they nervous because, as a teacher, I am less forgiving of them than the guys I rock out with are of me? Are they afraid to try new things at school because their classmates might make fun of them? Do they not even want to go to school, because they’re already thinking they’ll fail? If any of the answers to the above are yes, then learning and growth will be more difficult to achieve.

These are all good questions for me to think about as I head out tonight. And they are even better questions for me to think about as I’m greeting my students at the door tomorrow morning. I hope they’re amped up about learning something new tomorrow and I hope I’m helping them rock, instead of pulling the plug on their enthusiasm and their excitement for school. I really didn’t expect to learn something on my way to band practice tonight, but I think I did.


7 thoughts on “Figuring It Out While Rocking It Out

  1. “I hope I’m helping them rock, instead of pulling the *plug* on their enthusiasm and their excitement for school.”
    — GREAT line. So the kids gave you learning AND higher-level questioning to walk out the door and think about. You are a GREAT TEACH!!!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. I love the you connected your experience as a learner to your students’ experiences. Do you share these thoughts with your students in some way? I know my students always liked hearing about ways I was still learning and ways I learned from them. Better still, they loved teaching me things … maybe one of your students plays the cajon!

    The cajon is one of my favorite instruments! Kudos to you for taking it on so confidently and comfortably! Reading your post reminded me of a great documentary I saw several years ago. It’s called Hands of God and is about Afro-Peruvian percussionist Julio Algendones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for your feedback. Yes, I do try to emphasize with my students the importance of and the pleasure of being a lifelong learner. One of my stock phrases that they probably get sick of is, “I’m going to try to learn more than you do today.” Many times that learning comes directly from the kids – especially when it involves technology.

      I will check out Hands of God for sure! Thanks for the recommendation.


  3. I love your connection. I often forget that doing something new can be stressful–especially with all your friends watching. I never played an instrument (except recorder in fifth grade) but when I first saw a cajon, I decided that if I ever got a chance to take music lessons, that’s what I’d want to play. Have a great time.

    Liked by 1 person

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