This morning I popped in my headphones and found an album I haven’t listened to for seven years.
The last time I played it the lights were off and thirty-some squirrelly fourth grade students sat stone still in anticipation. They had earned the opportunity to listen to it, and they didn’t want to blow the chance.
I remember scanning their faces as I prepared to hit play and thinking, “I have done many things wrong as a teacher, but this right here is sweet victory.”
For the third year in a row I had nine and ten year olds begging to listen to Mozart.
The lights are on today. I’m standing at a desk three hundred miles away and those students are (hopefully) juniors and seniors in high school. And the first students—the initiators of the classical music reward system—should be high school graduates.
My teaching days are behind me, but my reason for listening is the same today. It’s time to write and words have been few. Life has been loud and unruly. Stillness has been elusive. I need inspiration. I need to be transported by beauty to another place. I need music written hundreds of years ago to create fresh imagery once again, and it will. It always does.
In my classroom, classical music taught us how to listen and find our words: how does this make you feel? what do you see in your mind when you hear it? what story is it telling?
And, today, I am still finding words and exercising my writing muscles under the tutelage of Mozart.
I used to awaken on Saturday mornings to the sounds of my dad playing Mozart or Bach or Vivaldi or Hayden or Handel, pretty much full volume on his prized LP records (yes, vinyl). This essay just made me smile–and glad that teachers like you, Kristen, are still playing great music for new generations.