Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Gift of Silence

I know, the first thing that you are thinking, "Meghan Gray.... silence... they should not even be in the same sentence, right?" ;)

But in my new experience in the "real world", I have really learned to appreciate the gift of silence that I have. God has blessed me with many times during my day that I can stop and reflect on all the good that He blesses me with, whether it is the sunrise and stunning fall colors on the way to work, the times in my classroom without the crazy kiddos, times in my apartment (since I don't have TV and I have very limited music, I frequently have no sounds which is weird but I am learning to enjoy it), times before and after mass, adoration, just to name a few. In these moments, because there is no "noise", I can clearly reflect on the beauty of life and learn to appreciate all the times with people I love all the more. Also, I can much more clearly see how God is working in my life and as you are reading this, you can see that I have become a much more reflective person lol :)

Now don't get me wrong, I would much prefer a loud house (especially the Gray house with it's lovely music of mom cooking in the kitchen with Kim and I just chatting with her, Becca playing her original songs that we have all heard so many times but never tire of, Jenny playing her guitar at the same time as the piano ;) (happens quite frequently), and Dad coming in after a run with his hands in the air singing "Rocky music" loudly)... I would much prefer these sounds, but God is blessing me with the eyes to look at my current calling and to see all the good in it. As I write this, I am tearing up because I really really miss the amazing place I call home (Where "when you are silent, you can hear the whisper of God...") -- ;) (people who have been to the Gray house know what I am referring to lol!

I know that when God blesses me with a family of my own that I will sometimes look for those moments of silence, so I am taking it all in right now :)

Words to inspire and bring JOY!

Saint Theresa's Prayer
May today there be peace within.
May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.
May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith.
May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that
has been given to you.
May you be content knowing you are a child of God.
Let this presence settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to
sing, dance, praise and love.
It is there for each and every one of us..
This is one of my all time FAVORITE prayers! (Thank you to Jean for sharing it with me :) 
Isn't peace what we all desire and strive for? I know I do :) I just think about the feeling when you can completely let go and dances, not caring what anybody thinks about you and just LIVE, what an amazing and empowering feeling that is. To completely let go means that you don't feel out of control anymore because God is in control :) , what a beautiful paradox! 
I am praying this for each of you today on this beautiful Sunday and Feast of St. Jude :) 

Monday, October 22, 2012

Singing the first year teacher blues...

So, I strongly strongly dislike grading and report cards on the computer.

I single-handedly managed to screw up about 3 of the classroom teachers' report cards because I didn't name my classes "Music" when I created classes for my grades. I unintelligently desired to venture into the world of online grading without a guide or a map... not a smart idea. So, now one of the teachers is mad at me because she had to shred her report cards because they had 3 different classes for music, instead of simply one... yep I am a genius...

I was quite upset and mad about this, but then the song "This is the stuff" came into my head and I realized that this is another way for God to keep me humble and make me realize that I am not in charge and I just have to accept some things that happen and I just can't be perfect...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another first, a BIG one!

I taught my first piano lessons today to my fellow staff member's 2 kids. I LOVE teaching piano! I did not know how much I was going to love it, so I took my time getting it started... (I know my parents are thinking..." we told you so..."-- Yes, you were right again!)

As I reflected on it, the piano was truly my first love when it came to music. The sound of the Gray household, besides lots and lots of talking, has always been the piano! What a true gift to be able to share this huge blessing in my life with children, who just eat it up!

It will definitely be a learning experience at the same time. My student who is a kindergarten boy was literally crawling his hands all over the kids and piano, constantly saying random things, looking at me about 20% of the time, playing with just his pointer finger even when I was constantly showing him that "all fingers need a chance- they need to take turns". As my friend so clearly pointed out, he is in Kindergarten, he is 5. I was 7 when I started so I will be excited to see how far he can go before he is 7! His sister, who is in 2nd will go far this year, I just know it. As long as I can get her to practice :)

Ms. Gray's Piano Studio is officially OPEN!!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

here is the gift I received :)

Is this not ADORABLE!! :) 

Pretty good treble clef from a 1st grader! :)

Humbling moments are blessings (in disguise of course!)

So today I had one of the ultimate "yes-I-am-a-first-year-teacher" moments...

I invited my students to participate in this experience at St. Thomas Aquinas highschool, where they had the opportunity to play with the high schoolers in the stand during the football game with about 100 or so other Catholic school band students, grades 5-8.

So, I found out about this through an email from the high school band director. He sent an info sheet to send to parents and asked us to RSVP for our students, just for food. So, after I told me students about it, gave the paper to them, I assumed (wrongly) that I was done with my preparation. Never once did it cross my mind that it would be RIDICULOUS to ask elementary school kids to sightread! music. Yup, I assumed that the music would be given to them, so I didn't worry about it. I found out later that the music was attached to an email to directors...

So, I have 8 of my students there, one beginner flute, 3 trumpets, one beginner trombone, 2 clarinets and one sax. I forgot to mention to my students that they would be split up into instruments, so the 5th grade trombone and flute player would be on their own.

So, the entire band of over 150 5th-8th grade band members are playing in the gym and I am walking around to make sure my kiddos were good. I glance to the door and I see a high school walking out with my flute player who was crying! She was overwhelmed at the fact that she couldn't play the music (because her teacher is a knucklehead...) , but she was more upset that she was by herself and didn't know anyone. The highschooler and I finally calmed her down but I just felt horrible!!! I went to the one band teacher I know and told her what happened and then I started to cry... I am pretty sure one of my students saw me... :( So I left the gym to calm myself down.

So after this fiasco, and Ms. Gray apologized about 20 million times to her wonderful students, it was time for the tailgate. The tailgate was quite fun because I spent some quality time with my students :) Ellie, the flute player was so sweet. I told her that she could tell her mom I was a "stupid teacher" (I really felt HORRIBLE!!- It is the worst feeling to be the cause of someone's discomfort and the reason that she was upset...) So I heard her telling the others students that I told her that... but then she was like "I would never say that because Ms. Gray is a great teacher." :) :) :)

I learned what I need to be prepared for, but most of all I learned how much my students look up to me and I saw what great kids they are. I am truly blessed to teach them!

At the tailgate :) 

Thursday, October 11, 2012

What happens when a 7th grader listens to Palestrina?

Apparently this.... 


I had my students listen to Palestina's Kyrie from Missa Papae Marcelli (aka one of the most beautiful pieces written, it truly elevates you). The question was "If you were going to use this music for a commercial, what product would you be selling and why?" and one of my students answered "In a commercial this would be selling toilet paper. It would be sitting on a throne and lights would shine on it. I would buy it." Who knew Palestrina could sell toilet paper? :) 

Friday, October 5, 2012

6th graders are kids

Just in case you didn't know, 6th graders are kids.

And when I say kids, I mean kids. Since the 6th graders are the "big kids" of my school, besides the 7th and 8th graders, it is easy to forget how young they are and how they are simply just trying to figure out who they are. And in the process of figuring out who they are, they are constantly testing authority (aka me, A lot) and acting quite immature. (I had a student turn her mouthpiece around backwards on her clarinet and then proceed to blow it to produce a lovely "SQUEEK", as I was attempting to talk to the band about a particular measure.... oh 6th graders... :) I gotta say tho, I am really starting to like these kids, even tho they can drive me bonkers, they are really sweet kids and quite funny!

I received my wake-up call, my "Meghan, they really are still kids, they are only 12! moment" when I had a student cry in front of me. He had given me attitude the entire class because I asked them to (shock!) stand during class because we were practicing for singing at Mass. He rolled his eyes at me, was bothering a girl next to him, gave me the "I really don't care" message through his body language, and basically was a clear as he could be to me without yelling out, that he did not care in the least bit that he was being rude and disrespectful. So, needlesstosay, I was expecting a kind of arrogant and denying attitude when I talked to him after class.

So, I was standing in front of him asking him why he acted the way he did, and he just hung his head and answered "I don't know...". Then he started crying. At first I didn't know what to do, but then I just reiterated to him that I don't think bad of him, I just want him to act better in class, that I care about him, but he needs to act better and more respectful next class. I am praying that this little moment will help him to realize how important it is to be respectful and try his best in every class.

I also know that this was God's way of gently pounding it into my head that they are just kids and they are learning how to behave and mistakes are a natural occurrence. It is also these experiences that remind me just how influential a teacher can be in a child's life, positive or negative.

The simple joys of teaching :)

Sorry, I have neglected my blog for a few days... I have been blessed to be busy with work and some social activities!

Today I received the simplest gift, but it truly made my day. Today was the day that I officially received my first homemade gift from a student!

As I was teaching my choir class (which is before school hours), a little 1st grader named Sydney walked into my classroom and told me that she had something for me. I assumed that it was just a note from her teacher, so I asked her to just put it on my desk. I was happily surprised that it was actually just a simple picture from her. Sydney had drawn a treble clef and wrote her name and the date, it was so precious! I think I am going to laminate it so it doesn't get ruined. On Tuesday I promise to take a picture of it to show you guys. :)

Another joy I received was to finally feel in control of my fourth grade class. They are usually super rambunctious and very difficult to rein in. We started recorders last week and they are really picking them up. Today, I had the idea to have some students "be the teacher", meaning that they pointed out the notes of "Hot Cross Buns" as we played them. They LOVED it! As they were "teaching" I called them Teacher- Whatever- their- name- is and I referred to myself as a student, which they loved as well.

I also had a super fun class with my second graders singing "Sarasponda" and doing lots of various actions as we sang the song. I don't know who was enjoying themselves more, me or them? ;)

As I reflect on these simple and yet amazing joys, I am overwhelmed with how much of a blessing my career of a Catholic School Music Teacher is. I mean, in what career can you spend a day singing and dancing with kids, praying a Rosary as a school (which we did today), acting silly to entertain kids/ maintain their attention, playing the piano as often as you would like (which is quite often), and just simply sharing one of the biggest joys and gifts of my faith, below my Faith, family, and friends of course, MUSIC! God is good!