Teaching at an inner-city community school is an all-consuming kind of job. Especially, I think, being the music teacher and volunteer drama coach/musical theatre director. There’s no such thing as ‘down time’ i.e. “silent reading”. I’m always ‘ON’.
We just finished our Spring Production, which was a blast! (Space Pirates – by Beat by Beat Press) I highly recommend their productions: the scripts, the music, and the support materials and the affordability were all really great. Look them up!) The kids performed so well and I was so proud of them! AND… it was stressful and exhausting!
Now that I’m almost completely recovered, I’m getting the students ready for our Volunteer Tea performances, as well as my regular music teaching: helping students learn about syncopation, African rhythms and melodies using marimba-like instruments, reading musical notation, learning about form through dances, songs and musical games from other cultures, etc.
One of my colleagues suggested that I teach the Ks and 1s one of my songs for the volunteers to enjoy. I went back to my first CD, Too Much Work To Do, and found a song about the joys of helping and cooperation: “If You Help Me”. The kids love it!
Listening back to that song and all the other tunes on the CD, I was struck by how much work I put into that project: the writing, the arranging, the rehearsing, the recording; creating a script for the kids (to create the scenario at my house, that runs through all the songs), and coaching them and recording their voices; laying down all the tracks: guitar and bass, melodies and then harmonies, percussion, keyboards on some tracks, calling up talented and skilled friends and professional acquaintances to lay down some instrument and vocal tracks, and then sitting through and co-producing in countless hours of mixing and mastering sessions. Not to mention writing the text for and commissioning and approving the artwork and graphic design for the CD cover and insert.
Phew!!! And, after it all, even after all this time, I still really like the CD. There are a couple of things I would do differently if I was doing it now, but basically, I’m really proud of all that work. (P.S. It was nominated for Best Children’s Album of the Year at the 1998 West Coast Music Awards).
Anyway… I put all of that aside to go back to school and launch a teaching career, but now, my creative side is calling me back. Instead of teaching in the classroom, I’ll be a children’s author, creator of educational material (including songs and study guides*), songwriter, video creator, etc. I’ve been doing all of this, all along, but very sparsely, whenever I get a burst of energy or time. Soon, very soon – it’s ‘retirement’ time for me, and back to more full time creative pursuits.
In the meantime, my illustrator (Peter Achurch) is back at work creating another illustration for our crowdfunding launch and my graphic designer (Elaine Littmann) and I have almost everything else done.
I can hardly wait to see the completed version of this book and hold it in my hot little hands! All we really need now is the funding to get it completed. I’m really hoping it will be all ready to go in time for Christmas gift-giving!
Stay tuned for more updates!
*see “Green, Please” – (available soon) – which includes many of my new songs and ideas about how to implement them into your classroom studies.