Friday, August 12, 2011

A "Why I love teaching middle school" Moment: When Music Stands Attack Children

(photo @

One reason that middle school students are occasionally a source of hilarious entertainment is their inherently awful  lack of coordination.  This is also often combined with virtually no awareness of their surroundings.  If a student possesses both of these traits, the potential for physical comedy basically writes itself.

Sometimes, however, I'm still amazed by just how ridiculously a student can injure or hurt themselves.

One year I had a 7th grade student named Luke.  Luke was a really good kid, but he could also occasionally spazz out at any moment.

One day when class was over, Luke began spinning like a helicopter (arms outstretched) towards the back of the room.

No, I don't know why...I never know why.  But that's what he was doing.

   It's not the worst way to use your imagination, actually

As Luke headed towards the back of the room, a lone music stand stood slightly off the edge of his eventual path.  Before I could say anything or ask Luke if  he had inhaled fumes from his sharpie marker, something amazing happened.

As Luke's arm passed by the stand, his sleeve caught on the inside of the base where the stem extends and retracts.  Somehow, Luke was flung into the air and landed hard on the band room floor.  The stand immediately and forcefully collapsed on top of him with a loud clang.

If you get too close to the fire, you're gonna get burned, punk!

Needless to say, after checking to make sure that Luke was okay, I continued to laugh hysterically along with the rest of the class.

From that point on, "Luke got beaten up by a music stand" became a running joke in the band.  I even made a scoreboard for my office window that proclaimed  'Music Stand: 1   Luke:  0.'

The next year, Luke was not nearly as spastic as he used to be, but the the joke about him being bested by an inanimate music stand remained.

One day when he came into class, a group of music stands were clustered near the back of the room.

Pictured in Luke's world:  An intimidating street gang

"Hey Mr. N," said Adrian, "I bet all those music stands are back there talking about how they're gonna jump Luke after class."

As we both began to laugh, Luke decided that he had had enough.

"Guys, this is stupid!" he exclaimed as he sat down.  "I fell down near a music stand one time, and you guys haven't given up this stupid joke that it somehow beat me up."

As Luke said this, he turned his stand over so that it became like a desk or table, and put his elbows on top of it to rest his chin on his hands.  This would prove to be his undoing.

"Luke, I know what I saw," I very matter of factly replied.  "We all saw that music stand reach out and take you down like it was a WWE match."

"Mr. N, that's stupid," Luke replied.  "Music stands can't beat people up."

The moment that Luke said that, one of his elbows slipped, dropping his hand from under his chin and rocketing the lip of the stand back towards his face.


The stand walloped Luke in the jaw so hard that it sounded like hammer crashing into a steel bar.  Fortunately, this sickening sound was immediately negated by uncontrollable laughter.

From that day forward, we always made sure that Luke had someone help him get and put away his music stand.