Friday, November 11, 2011

Year 2: Week 10 - The Edge Of Glory

This week I spent at a four-day, three-night outdoor education retreat with my fifth graders, all 54 of them. This trip is an extension of the fifth grade curriculum and focuses on perspective and reflection. I went on this trip last year for the first time and wrote about in it this previous post discussing my first experience leading a campfire sing along.

There was a lot of things different about this year’s retreat but the one that comes most directly to mind was the weather. Last year we were blessed with clear sunny weather that hovered in the high forties to the high fifties. Only late at night was there ever a hint of being cold.

Well, this year, we had rain and not just the light mist stuff, we’re talking side-ways rain. Then there was the sleet, which turned into snow, and then there was more rain. Even though we moved a lot of activities inside we still spent a lot of time outside. In the same way that the warmth of the sun reenergizes your body, the cold and wetness of rain and snow drains away not only your energy but also your spirit.

On the second day of the trip after being outside in the freezing rain we collected all of the students inside one the cabins before transitioning to dinner. One of the other teachers looked over at me and made a guitar motion, I nodded and got out my guitar.

Everyone in the room was cold, wet and tired. As formed I my hands around the neck of my guitar I realized how cold my fingers tips were as I felt the pain of the strings on my fingers. I also found it difficult to hold my guitar pick in my other hand feeling it slip around in my wet fingers.

Looking out of my students I saw their tired faced and I felt immediately the right song of the situation. I said: "We had snow today! The reason this is exciting is because we have people we care about to share this with. Having people around makes things like the cold, rain and snow glorious."

I then I told them repeat the phrase “tonight, yeah baby,” after me. Though there was some confusion on what I was doing, I eventually got all 54 of the kids to sing this back to me and then I stared playing Lady Gaga’s “Edge Of Glory" (which I wrote about in this earlier post).

As I sang the first line, it just made sense, “There ain’t no reason you and me should be alone.”

Singing through the verses I heard a couple kids sing along and everybody scream back “tonight, yeah baby.” But when chorus hit, the room erupted and I looked up to see all of the kids in the rooming singing along and smiling. You would have never known how tired, wet and miserable these kids were only 10 minutes earlier watching them sing together.

Yes, “Edge Of Glory” is not about feeling great on a rainy day but the spirit of the song and that moment made it about just that.  Music education is about the soul and spirit as much as it is about the mind.  It's powerful and it's magical.

By the time the song was over, it was like the whole room was a different color.  There was energy and life where there was once none.  In that moment I really understood what it meant to be at the edge of glory.

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