Celebration: Let there be music

I am digging deep this week. Usually writing this post is a source of joy. Today, after a very long week, I mostly want to crawl into my bed and hide under the pillows. But, I am pretty certain, that this is all the more reason to find things to celebrate. I thank Ruth Ayres, for the inspiration and her Celebration Link up that she hosts each week.

celebrate link up

This week there is huge escalation between the British Columbia Teacher’s Federation (our teacher’s union) and B.C. Public School Employer’s Association (bargaining on behalf to the government). There are rotating strikes – so we were out of the classroom on Monday and now the government has locked us out for part of every day and is deducting 10% of our daily salary each day. We can not arrive at school before 8:15 a.m. and must leave by 3:45 p.m. We are not permitted to work with students over recess or lunch. It is ugly and stressful. I am exhausted and feeling disorganized and completely out of sorts. I love my job but I have lots of needs in my room. The teaching and learning work when I am energetic and “on my game.” This week, with everything going on, it was hard to be in that place. A challenging week to feel inspired and passionate about a job that I love. Which just felt all kinds of wrong.

But at the end of the week, I do have gratitude. When I look back over the week, there were many happy moments with the children. And there was one half hour block that was my “guaranteed happy” – our music class on Thursday afternoon with Jill Samycia Recently I wrote a letter in support of what this outreach program means to me. I am sharing it here:

 St James outreach Celebration: Let there be music

Every week, there is almost a guarantee that I will be moved to tears with my students. Not out of sadness. Or anger. Or frustration. But out of pure joy.

This moment happens Thursday afternoons when my children (an energetic Grade 2/3/4 class) come upstairs to sing with Jill Samycia from St. James Music Academy.  On the way up there is noise – singing, humming, chatter. On the way down it is louder, inspired by thirty minutes of time with Jill. While we are there, there is rarely a silent moment. A second here or there when we breathe between lyrics and the piano momentarily stops. Between songs, the children are buzzing. They make requests. They keep singing a favourite part. They are negotiating who will sing with who if there are “solos” Natter, natter, natter. And then Jill begins to play and whoa . . . Whoa.

My chatty, energized, silly class rises up and sings. It is precious and magical and shockingly amazing. These children belt out lyrics. Elements of soul, passion and emotion reveal themselves. They smile. They sway. Some get up and dance. We all get lost in the song. I often kind of cry. Because Jill finds the place inside of these children that is talent and music and confidence and risk taking all rolled into one.

She brings it out and it shines bigger each week. It strengthens who we are as a community. It strengthens the spirit of each child. I catch smiles of happy and proud and calm. Children sing solos that are barely audible at first. Others knock us over with throaty style that seems to channel from some older, wiser soul. Some of these kids are kids who barely say boo in class. Others are kids who never stop talking. But when we sing, we all have voice. When we sing together . . .

So Thursday afternoon is a beautiful, inspired time with my students and with Jill. Guaranteed wonderful. Guaranteed magic. A piano. A room full of kids. A talented teacher who has ways . . .  Let there be music.

Thank you St. James Music Academy and the amazing outreach program. Thank you Jill Samycia.

With gratitude and Thursday tears,

Carrie Gelson

Grade 2/3/4 Teacher

Seymour Elementary

This I celebrate! Thank you to Jill and the sounds of singing that gave me my “guaranteed happy” in a challenging week. It always means a lot. This week, it was especially wonderful. And oh so needed 🙂

Wishing everyone a wonderful week!

24 thoughts on “Celebration: Let there be music

  1. So sorry you are going through all of the icky strike stuff. Not fun at all! And hard to stay focused on kids! But how great that you have this amazing musical interlude right in the midst of every week! We have a mariachi band at my school and they regularly reduce me to tears, just because it’s so amazing to watch kids perform.

  2. So wonderful for your students and says so much about you, their teacher. Joy in the face of unrest. Hope you have a restful week end.

  3. I love hearing you write about the music, which always manages to reach everyone’s soul, doesn’t it? Sorry for the rough time with the union stuff. I hope it’s solved very soon for your benefit, Carrie!

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  5. So glad you found something so lovely to celebrate at the end of this tough week. When I taught high school, I worked in a very challenging environment with kids who had a lot of needs. I definitely needed all my energy and composure to be on my game and to do my job well. (Now I need it for parenting my very challenging, high-needs kids!) I hope this situation is quickly resolved. I am appalled that teachers would be docked 10% of their daily salary!

    • Thank you for your support Elisabeth. It means a lot. It is appalling that our salary has been docked- it has gone to the Labour Relations Board and hopefully will be found not sound so that our salary can be returned to us.

  6. Stay strong!!!! It will get better!!! Xoxox

    Go do something FUN today in the sun!!!!

    We can’t control this ….. Xoxox love you

    Sent from my iPhone


  7. Sound like a tough week! You should be commended for writing that letter and sticking up for the arts. With cutbacks it seems like the arts are the first to go. For many of my students, this is the area where they shine and every child needs a moment to shine. Hope things get better this week!

  8. Carrie, you’ve been in my thoughts this week, I’ve been wondering how you’ve been… I know how upsetting this time is. It stinks because this is not what any of the teachers want at all – we want to be with our students and working, but, we also need to be validated for what we do as professionals! Hang in there, stay strong, remember the kids… this will end!

  9. Your gratitude letter for the music is so powerful in the middle of the mess your school is in. Not allowed at school or not allowed to help students is so cruel. I hope you will find joy and strength to keep going and finishing the year with a celebration.

    • Thank you Terje. Writing even a little bit about this was therapeutic yesterday. Today we had a wonderful walk in the woods and I feel new energy to claim back my classroom despite all of this ridiculousness from the lockout.

  10. I am so glad you and your students have that bright spot in your week. I am so sorry that you all are going through difficult times and wish you strength for the rest of the school year. Hugs!

    • Thank you Crystal. I will admit it was a very hard week. I really tried to use this weekend to pull some energy back. It feels terrible to be so out of control at my workplace – hoping that the lockout will be deemed illegal.

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  12. love love love this post Carrie. I got weepy reading about the joy in music you and your little rascals embrace on Thursday afternoons. Wish I could be there! This being on strike and locked out at the same time is crazy making – I just keep telling myself at least I have more time for reading……

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