“Zudio, zudio, zudio, zudio, zudio, zudio, all night long. . . “ “Just from the kitchen, shoo fly shoo. . . “ Echoes from past classroom music teaching? Not originally. These songs are linked with memories from my Kodaly courses at Texas State University-San Marcos. For my other teacher friends and I, it was like going back to summer camp; summer camp for music teachers. We sang and played and discussed. Okay. We did lots of playing. We also had lots of homework every night. Even in that we absorbed ourselves in challenges such as singing melodies on letter names, changing to a different key. We encouraged each other to keep up with the homework and figured out ways to help each other. We challenged our ear to figure out the solfege names for various folk songs, pop songs, other songs to the point where we were singing in solfege in our sleep! Another day, with our class, new challenges, play, and passion . . . lots of passion. By the end, we were ready to go back to another school year and share our experiences with our students. Why was this important? What did it really do?
My favorite person, Aaron Mitchell, likes to sit around with his liberal arts teacher friends from school and ponder on all matters of philosophy, history, and the human. Aaron says that even the space of his school is set up so all of the teachers use the lounge to do office work, creating a little professional learning community of colleagues. Classroom discussions and learning then become just an extension of the discussions teachers have on and off the clock. Discussion becomes a way of life, supported by a culture of thinking.
As a music teacher, my summer courses became a play where I could play with others, discuss teaching with others, share with others the joy of music. The fun thing about teaching music is not only were these discussions verbal, but we played games and made music together. Some of our exchanges were verbal using words as we wondered about various composers, or what might engage our students, or what would be the simplest sequence. Some of our exchanges were musical as we “spoke” with musical questions and answers, sometimes creating our own arrangements for songs. Part of the reason I think we used some of the songs we did together in our classroom may have been that we were familiar with them, or that we thought they would “work.” However, I like to think that maybe we used those songs for ourselves, to bring back a little of the magic and wonder of those days of “Kodaly music camp.”
Some times, I wish I could go back to “Kodaly music camp” if only to join my other teacher friends in a beautiful time of musicking, dancing, moving, playing, and working (I’ve never minded hard work - especially if it’s with friends and it is worthwhile). We developed a real sense of community; we were not alone. This year, I’m teaching a few of the sessions in our Kodaly course here at ASU. I hope we can all play, share, exchange ideas, work, make music, and fill up our souls so often burned out by the end of the year. When we all start back teaching in the fall, hopefully then we will be able to let our full minds and hearts overflow and just continue the conversation with the musicians (our beloved students) in our classrooms. Viva la musica!!