Ms. Russell’s Happiness Report for Saturday, September 2

This week, I began teaching at one of the many schools that I will be singing and dancing in this school year. I teach about 450 students at this elementary school (Kindergarten through 4th grade + after-school chorus) (the only students I don’t teach are 5th graders who aren’t in my chorus), and the job at this school also carries the bulk of my teaching hours. For the past couple months, I was honestly really nervous to go back, having not taught much at all since last May. But for some wonderful reason, I gained a surge of positivity last weekend, in addition to a massive stream of creative ideas, and ended up having an amazing first week back! Here are some of the highlights… 🙂

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Recognize Weakness but Focus on Strength

When I woke up this morning, I had received an email from a former student’s parent. My student, who we will call William, was one of my best pupils in my music theory classes. He was in my class the very first semester that I ever taught, and continued to take my classes until the highest level that I currently teach. I was very sad to see him go this past spring, but was glad that he had passed my class and would be achieving even greater heights.

Well, to my surprise, William’s mom emailed me to ask if I could teach him private piano lessons. I had a few initial thoughts. First, I was ecstatic at the idea of being able to teach him again. But shortly thereafter, I was filled with self-doubt…

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Ms. Russell’s Happiness Report for Saturday, 2/18

What is a “Happiness Report“, you ask? Well, I had a particularly happy day today, and I also decided that I wanted to have the latest article on my website for now be a happy one. I do have a few articles coming up which I will be posting in the next couple days, but I felt like doing this now, so here we go! Here are some trivial but nonetheless very happy things that have happened in my life over the past couple weeks.

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Authority & Approachability

Fall semester is coming to an end, and for the most part I’m excited. I have taught a lot of concepts to all of my music theory students, and I’d say that a good 90% of them are going to pass to the next class. For the ones who aren’t going to pass, it’s mostly because they haven’t been coming to class, or were a little too young for that class’s subject material to begin with.

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“How do you know so many things!?”

One of the very best parts about teaching young children is their youthful curiosity and wonder, with concepts and topics that are all but innate to me at this point.

With my Music Theory Level 1 class this weekend, I was reviewing whole tones, semitones, flats, sharps, naturals, and going around the room asking students to give us the answers for the workbook problems.

When it comes to flats and sharps, one of the most challenging things to remember is that B# is NOT the same as Cb, just as E# is NOT the same as Fb. Since E & F, and B & C are the only pairs of white keys without a black key between them, E# = F, Fb = E, B# = C, and Cb = B. I went over this concept again with my students, and we continued with our workbook pages.

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Sadness and Music

Games currently playing: Brave Frontier, KH: Unchained, Seven Knights, KH: 358/2 Days

For those of you that have been following my website, or have read one, some, or all of my articles, you may have gathered—subconsciously or not—that I am a very happy and generally positive, excitable person. And this is definitely true in many, genuine ways. But I, like most people, have my down days too. I grew up, also probably like a lot of other people, generally encouraged to suppress any negative emotions, but I have learned over the years that that is not such a great lifestyle. I 100% believe, now, in feeling every emotion that comes along, happy or sad, “positive” or “negative” (though emotions just ARE; they shouldn’t be labeled as good or bad), but in the right context of course. Say you feel a sad spell coming on in the middle of your work day: I would wait until you get home (or at least until a lunch break) to really let it all out. Otherwise, I think it is so important that we let ourselves feel our emotions, particularly “negative” ones, since those are undoubtedly the most uncomfortable to accept. But they also give us the most well-rounded and whole human experience, because we cannot truly experience happiness and triumph without feeling rejection, disappointment, and grief.

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