Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Stop...Hammer Time!

You know what makes me feel old? 

The fact that kids I have taught in middle school are now going to college to be teachers or are already in the teaching the profession.  It also makes me very proud, excited...and a bit scared.  Not because I don't have faith in them, but because there are some things that will never be taught in a college classroom, yet they have to deal with every day.  

It doesn't have much to do with music, but it needs to be addressed: No matter what you do, there will always be some things that you just cannot teach a kid.

Now don't get me wrong. If a kid wants to learn something and is willing to work, 
than normally anything is possible. Heck, if a kid DOESN'T have any desire to learn, you could be the one to inspire that. 

But this all applies to subject matter. There are social behavoirs that we will invariably try to change, but will never succeed in doing so. 

So for all you current new teachers, music education majors, or those of you considering going into the teaching field, here are a few of these unbreakable norms:

1.) For the gentlemen: Axe Body Spray will not make girls like you. 

Seems simple, but for some reason Axe's (admittedly very good) advertising is working...to our detriment. 

You see, the boys not only think that it will make girls like them, but the more they put on, the more girls they will get. Subsequently, I have been attacked by clouds of the stuff lingering in the hallways of my middle school after a gym class. It feels like someone turning you upside down and pouring a bottle of cologne into your nose. This will sting and blind you for at least the next 20 minutes.

2.) For the ladies: Smelling like a Jolly Rancher is not desirable. 

When I worked at Lafayette High School with David Jaggie, I would often have to walk by the colorguard to get to the band office as they were leaving to go out onto the field. This was at the height of the fruit scented body wash/shampoo/body spray revolution. 

As I walked by them, it felt as though a multitiude of fruits that should NEVER be put together (no matter what Snapple says) had been placed in a net, twirled around, and hurled into my face. (Either that or a weird combination of a mango and a pineapple was choking my senses). 

3.) For both: Only gross people make out in the halls.

Seriously, have you ever noticed this? 

I'm not talking about the ones who give each other a quick kiss goodbye or staring lovingly at each other. I'm talking some PG-13 nastiness right there in school as you're walking by. 

It's just disgusting and it's usually done by disgusting people.  Do you think we want to see that? Break it up, tell them to go to class, and then go vomit in the bathroom before the bell rings.

4.) For everyone, a quote you will probably say at some point: "I can't believe that they actually like that (song/type of music/movie/clothing style)! It's horrible!!! WHAT IS THIS WORLD COMING TO??"

Calm down, take a deep breath...and realize that you at one point listned to Backstreet Boys, or NSYnc, or Britney Spears, or Five, or O-Town (oh yes, I went there!), or any number of musical acts that your elders recoiled at. 

But I am not without accountability. When I was much younger, I was silently very upset when New Kids on the Block went out of style. 

I also continued to tight roll my jeans until about a year after it was tolerable to do so. 

When I hear an MC Hammer song, I STILL have the inclination to dig out the old parachute pants (yes, I owned TWO pairs), and throw down my white boy groove to the dance from the video for "U Can't Touch This"...which to the untrained eye looks like someone convulsing from a seizure and trying to step on ants at the same time. 

When I hear the Macarena occasionally on the radio or on a VH1 "Look At How Stupid Everyone Was This Year" special, it's almost as if the synapses in my brain involuntarily fire to make me do that stupid dance...and I can't stop it.

You see, when we start to get out of the little kid phase and into the scary adolescent phase, there are two things that the old folks never took into account and us semi-old folks (I'm not ready to be full fledged yet) still don't. 

First off, we're still searching for an identity and will grasp onto anything new and shiny that attracts us...which leads to the second truth: They haven't heard that much yet. 

Their musical palette is still unrefined. So while I may have heard rap songs about money and drugs for the last 15 years and I'm just over it, it's very new, shocking, and fresh to them. 

We also tend to let nostalgia cloud our judgement. I thought that Batman Forever was great as a kid. Now...not so much. But the memories from that time in my life will invariably halt my productivity or leisure time if I pass it on TBS for the 40th time. 

So go forth, young teachers, and teach music with all the passion and energy that you have within you. But as far as the social behavoirs like the ones I named above, just hum the melody to "I Want It That Way" and take a deep breath...it'll be okay.