I had just met the children. The classroom was overflowing with eager parents and not-so-eager children. New + big + different = scary. For fifteen minutes we looked at each other, me smiling and children with big worried eyes. The classroom may have looked wonderful, but all that children could see were too many other people – and new teachers.
I knew just what to do. I pulled out the autoharp.
It’s big. Really big, with twenty-one strings. I sat down and put it on my lap. Suddenly there wasn’t a sound in the room. Nobody said a word. I looked at the autoharp and touched a string.
Me: “The strings make sounds. Like this.”
And then I plucked a few strings, from low to high, pausing between each sound. At the last one I winced my face, readying for the tiniest string that would play a really, really high sound. This was fascinating.
Me: “Now, if I push a button and play all the strings, it makes music. Not just sounds. Music!“
My face is excited, and I… do it. I push a button, strum the strings. Then I do another button. And another. Still, no one has said a word. Children are entranced.
Me: “I know, let’s play music and sing a song. Oh, there’s a song I think you know. See if you can guess what it is.”
And, I play ‘The ABC Song’. Children were eager to sing along, of course. Oh, did they ever sing! Now they were part of what was happening. I was connecting with children.
Me: “Wait! There’s another song that has exactly the same tune. It sounds just like ‘The ABC Song’. See if you know what it is.”
I began to play ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star’. Children immediately sang. Two children stood up to sing. Actually, they belted out the song. We all had the best time together. I looked straight at every child. I was smiling and singing. They were, too. It felt good. It was a moment, a big one. I know the school year will be just fine.