Thursday, 22 October 2009

Seeds on stony ground?

I did two more woodwind demonstrations this week which passed without a hitch. The Pink Panther theme always goes down well, as does The Simpsons music. I hold up 8-year old Lisa as an example of someone who's done a lot of practice to reach such a high standard. (I suspect, in his time, Bleeding Gums Murphy has done a lot of something too but I don't go there.) The clarinet brought some surprising responses because a character in Sponge Bob apparently plays it. Note to self: watch more TV.

One year 7 class remains. I couldn't fit it into my schedule. When I asked about it I was told it was the special needs class: ten students, three helpers. I would be unlikely to get any takers but they would probably enjoy the experience.

Straight after that I found myself chatting with the guitar tutor about a student he had who was making little or no progress and seemed ill-equipped to grasp even the basics. What to do? So I told him of my time in a special school where for some kids even assembling a saxophone with the crook (curvy bit) pointing the right way took some weeks to crack. There were no future Galways, Charlie Parkers or Naftule Brandweins among them but there were improvements in their co-ordination, behaviour and appreciation of music. On top of that they were getting one-to-one with an adult who was neither parent nor class teacher and needy kids just love attention.
So now the guitar teacher is determined to enjoy his student on the child's own level and I'm ready to perform for kids in the bottom set and broaden their horizons in any way I can. But first it's the half term holiday and hooray for that.

The significance of the title? My memory of the Bible is poor: it was compulsory to attend church on Sundays at my old school and there were various assemblies led my well-meaning hypocrites. This 'Christianity as a tool of the Establishment' was guaranteed to foster rebellion against organised religion in all its forms. However I do remember something about the waste of scattering seeds on stony ground. That may be true for gardeners but when it comes to people no ground is so hard that you can't plant something.


  1. Interesting point. It is a question of matching the seed/plant to the environment, not the other way round.

    I think the buddhists claim that it's arrogant to attempt to grow plants usuited to your environment, and then try to add water/heat etc as necessary to make them grow.

    The opposite is humility I guess.

  2. This is getting deep! If the environment equates to the individual and the seed to the knowledge or skill one is trying to impart then absolutely yes. Choose the best seeds for the environment. This is person-centred teaching. The opposite is to brand your environment a failure because the seeds you have planted, with little thought to the medium you have chosen, won't grow. Without stretching this metaphor to breaking point (or digging myself too deeply into a hole from which I cannot get out), my optmistic stance is there are few soils/souls so poor that they won't sustain life/music on some level.