Monday, January 12, 2009

Skip to my Lou, my darlin'
(The 5th grade music revolt) ...
Do you remember your music teacher from elementary school? I do! My teacher had his PhD in music and we were instructed to call him Dr. Brower. He was a fanatic about the beat, timing and was committed to making sure we could all read the notes inside our song books (that were handed out each session). He had us sit in a circle each week for class and I believe his favorite song was “Skip Skip to My Lou” … I remember singing this song each week and by the time we hit the 5th grade “the Skipping” song was no longer cool! You see, he made us skip around the circle (one person at a time) while the rest of the class sang the song. No one wanted to skip. We had a revolt. No more skipping Dr. Brower.

He was a heavy set man and I remember the skipping revolt didn’t sit well with his musical soul. He was angry and wanted us to return to the tap tap ready go exercises he invented to help us count out he beat. It went something like this – tap tap ready go – toot toot toot. And he had us clasp our hands together and tap our two pointer fingers together as we chanted “tap tap” – this was not cool either. No more tapping or skipping Dr. Brower!

This poor, old Dr. was completely at a loss of what to do with us! So, we made a deal … We would tap and skip if we could have ONE music party day! Our terms: We could bring whatever music we wanted and groove to the beat in our own way.
Agreed.

What followed was a day I’ll never forget. We almost sent Dr. Brower to an early grave… Here’s the scene: Rowdy 5th graders crammed in the music room (no chairs in a circle on this day – NO). All we needed that day was the record player (it was the early 80’s) and just ONE record called: I Love Rock & Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.Yes that same song played for 40 minutes (as loud as the old record player would go). I remember looking over to see how Dr. Brower was handling the ‘modern sound’ – he wasn’t. He was mad and disgruntled for making the deal with 5th graders who had given up skipping and tapping. He had lost control. I think he was even blushing – It finally occurred to him that our music and his were not at all the same. He needed us to skip and tap so that his ‘happy music’ world could continue.
We got that.

By the end of the music party, he was in the corner covering his ears --- tapping out the final moments of the longest day of his life.The next week, he changed the tempo a bit and replaced “Skip Skip to My Lou” with Kookaburra sits in the old gum tree ...

Compromise:
We never skipped again. And he never allowed another musical party.
And I think its safe to assume that he never listened to Joan Jett ever again...

*** The photo at the top of this blog is a kookaburra bird sitting in his old gum tree.
"Laugh kookaburra laugh ...!"

7 comments:

Alyson (New England Living) said...

That was the funniest and funnest story. I loved it. Poor guy! :)

Shaela said...

what a neat memory. thanks for sharing!

Jennie Stanfield said...

ahhh..Dr. Brower...tap, tap ready go...tooh tooh tooh. I feel your pain. :-) Funny story.

nettalou said...

Oh Wendy, you brought back so many memories of elementary school as I read about our dear old Dr. Brower. I to remember his funny ways. Oh those were the days, you must admit, would we be who we are had we not experienced his love of the music and "the beat" :)

Wendy Christensen {Moments Like This} said...

Alyson - Thanks, I laughed SO hard writing this piece... And remembering some good times that have LONG gone!

Shaela - Always fun to have you stop by! Thanks :)

Jennie - You so get this. I know you lived through some 'tap madness' yourself ... SO FUNNY.

Netta - How are you? So fun to have a former Marcus Whitman friend to connect with!! :)

Cindy said...

This story just made me laugh! It reminded me of our 6th grade teacher who we terrorized. It's amazing what a group of middle school students can do.

Wendy Christensen {Moments Like This} said...

Cindy - I laughed SO hard writing this... :) I'm glad you enjoyed the humor. It is amazing how scary a bunch of middle school kids CAN be. I admire teachers who dare teach and lead at any age!!