At the start of every English class we quietly read. Every single day. It’s the ritual of the class. For students it’s the few minutes of transition from a noisy hallway to a focused Language Arts class. It’s the shift in gears from perhaps math, or social studies or physical education. For me it’s also a few moments to take attendance, take a breath and also to shift gears.
Today in the silence of teen brains reading, someone from guitar class placed themselves outside of our door, which also happens to be the most ridiculously amplified acoustic hallway in the school with an echo chamber like no other. It’s not until the moment that I wrote this that I realize exactly why that wannabe musician sat where they did. Insta-amp.
Unfortunately, this youth must have had a elevated sense of skill because those squeaky squawking plucked strings shot into our quiet room, sharp and awkward, hitting the silence, pointed and uncomfortable. Oh the enthusiasm of a beginner. Bless them.
A boy, helpful in his nature, stood up without saying a word, to kindly close the door and leave us in our peaceful silence. He barely took two steps from his desk when another teen on the other side of the room in the most relaxed and enlightened tone spoke. “Leave it….It might get better…” He shrugged his shoulders and raised his eyebrows, giving a facial expression of possibility. Of hope.
I burst a laughing I didn’t know was in me slapping my hand on my desk with joy! He took me by surprise. I didn’t expect it. Any of it. It wasn’t just what the boy said but how he said it. There was an air in the way he spoke, like some old Greek man, at a café, spinning his worry beads, while his coffee cooled. Waiting for the guitar player on the corner to improve somehow and he sitting there, completely entertained by this.
This boy! What an optimist!! What a thing to say! Between the words of that simple sentence was a world of sentiment. Between those few words were hidden the words he was not saying aloud. In between I heard “You know, it’s not great but this plucking might turn into something. There could be a song in there—if not now, maybe someday. We should be patient and see…Wait.”
His response wasn’t reactive like the boy who automatically stood up to close the door—like me who thought I should ask someone to close the door. His response was different. He heard sounds that could be music, that had potential. He, in his fourteen year old brain wanted to wait, to see what would happen with the twang plucks.
It was the lesson of the semester for me. Impactful.
I’m always looking for the moments students teach me. This was the moment. It was telling. The moment and this boy reminded me to wait, to be less reactive, to enjoy even the awkward beginners. For the most part I’m an optimist but I haven’t stretched it out so far that I always see the end game quite like this kid, but I need to.