Today marked the end of another week of Singing School at Bethany. Each summer, the Cantor (a.k.a. Parish Music Director, henceforth referred to as "Phil") leads a week-long music camp for kids grades 3-8 (or some similar age range, I can't remember for sure). The first time I helped him with the SS was my first summer out of high school, after I finished my school-year-long stint as Bethany's first Music and Worship Apprentice. I found it demanding on my personal resources. I was new to the teaching thing, and I was especially uncomfortable teaching a small group of second- and third- graders sight-singing and other important musical skills. For as long as I've known Phil, he's often had more confidence in me than I've had in myself. And for that I'm extremely grateful because I may have chickened out on too many experiences by now if I didn't think anyone believed in me. High School Susan did not ooze confidence. College-grad Susan tries a lot harder to be confident and to seem confident when she's not.
This week of SS was a lot easier than my first ever. I taught sight-singing, directed and accompanied, as well as prepared the extremely-important mid-morning snack! It really helps that a lot of the kids know me--not by first name and as an authority figure. Two years of pure experience in church music has upped my confidence in teaching the youngsters, mostly because I've re-familiarized myself with how their brains work. It's easy to forget what kids are even like when you spend four years on a college campus.
I still see lots of room for improvement in my teaching choir to kids. For one, I'm really bad at dealing with very exuberant boys who are only looking for attention. My first instinct is to tell them to stop, then make eye-contact until they realize they're being disruptive, and then I resort to yelling. In Girls Choir, I almost never yell. But they are only girls--and I know girls. There is at least one child in the Boys Choir, which Phil thankfully directs, who found many ways to be annoyingly disruptive this week in SS. I am very glad this kid likes choir and shows up; he's not bad-natured, he just has outbursts and tries to be the comedian all the time. However, I just can't seem to control him. I noticed that Phil simply ignores him if he says something inappropriate, and this is probably the best response. But I, personally, find it difficult to ignore how his antics affect the concentration of the other students. He completely does not respond to my attempts at class control. His persistence turns me into Mean Miss Gavin, and I don't like being her.
In the meantime, I can be glad I don't have to deal with third- through sixth-grade boys every week. But I will eventually have to come up with better methods of asserting my authority. And, I will have to deal with seventh- and eighth-grade boys in Agape Singers, which is a lot scarier. There's probably nothing more I can do in the next few weeks to prepare myself: it looks like only experience can fully prepare me for this task. Wish me luck!