Childhood Memories Friday: Music Class

Being musical – I’ve played piano since 2nd grade, organ since age 22, and oboe from ages 12 to 18 – you’d think I would have enjoyed music class at school. While I can definitely recall some interesting moments from music class, I can’t say I particularly enjoyed it.

In elementary school, I think I had a different music teacher each year. I’m not sure if our school was so bad that they kept quitting, or what the problem was, but each year it was someone new. Also, until I believe 6th grade, we didn’t have a music room – the music teacher went from room to room with a wheeled cart containing a record player (yes, record player) and whatever else we might need. We didn’t feel pathetic or underfunded; that’s just the way it was.

I remember in second grade we were singing a song from the music book. I was absent-mindedly flipping through the book and became fascinated by a song I found about Smokey the Bear. The teacher stopped the class and reprimanded me for looking through the book during the song. I was humiliated!

Who could forget Mr. Fritz? He was fond of singing, “Hello, Susan” and I would need to copy his pitches and sing “Hello, Tony” or whoever was next. So on down the line we went, and pity the poor soul who couldn’t carry a pitch. This particular year, it was Tonda. “Hello, Tonda” Mr. Fritz sang. “Hello, Mr. Fritz,” Tonda tried singing, but unfortunately, Tonda was tone-deaf. Mr. Fritz kept repeating it and repeating it until Tonda was in tears. Gym class may have been the most brutal, but music had its moments of combat as well.

The sixth grade music teacher was the worst of all (I’ll keep him anonymous in case he ever googles himself). He was a pleasant guy, but totally unable to deal with sixth graders (or actually with any class of students, I suspect). My complete memory of  sixth grade music class consisted of being given a 5-page dittoed handout with the lyrics to popular songs of the day. He would ask what we wanted to sing, and we’d turn to that page while he would find the proper spot on the record. Then we’d sing “Mac the Knife,” “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” or whatever. During these songs, kids would fly paper airplanes all over the room. Braver ones would walk behind the teacher, giving him “rabbit ears” while he stood by, apparently oblivious.

One day after music class, he called me, my friend Miriam, and Beth to stay after class. I was nervous – why was I in trouble? Heck, even the bad kids never got into trouble in that class. Turns out, he wanted the three of us to sing a trio in the Christmas concert. To this day, I maintain that he chose us not because of our voices, but because we were the only ones not launching projectiles at him during class.

What do you remember of music classes when you were young?

5 thoughts on “Childhood Memories Friday: Music Class

  1. Like you I was musical–couldn’t sing but played clarinet, bass clarinet, saxophone by 7th grade. I hated “general” music class as much as the rest–it was just filling time.

    My greatest music class humiliation was being the only kid in 1st grade music class who didn’t know the “Do, Re Mi” song from “Sound of Music.” Mind you, the movie had been released the year before! It wouldn’t make it to tv for YEARS, but all the other kids had been to the theatre to see it!!

  2. At Holland School we had Mrs. Siebe for our music teacher. She fascinated me. She always STOOD as she played the piano on the stage in the gymnasium. AND her music had no left hand notes BUT she could make up a left hand. It just blew me away… She wore kinda flashy jewelry and I often secretly wished she was my mother!

    One of the largest thrills of my school years came in third grade when my teacher, Miss Bartelt, called me to her desk to inquire if I would take the job of rhythm band director! I was ecstatic! I wore a little cape and directed the entire rhythm band AND I continued the job for fourth grade, since third & fourth grades were in the same room at Holland School. What I would give for a picture of me in my cape but I am sure none were ever taken… BUT I have the memories and what can beat that?

  3. I remember at one of my elementary schools we had weekly assemblies where several classes got together and we would just sing. They would play records and put the words to the songs up on the overhead projector. We had so much fun singing. Also at that school there was a week where everyday we got to try playing a different instrument. I remember trying to play the violin and trumpet. If you liked it you could sign up for lessons, but I didn’t like it. In jr. high school I signed up for girls chorus. We had concerts and at the concerts we wore our dresses that we had custom made. Every girls dress was made from the same pattern and always in pastel colors. Back then the style was long dresses with the tie in the back. Each year a different pattern was used. My dresses were both made out of pink cloth. I remember that we went to one event where different schools performed. During that performance a record was recorded. I remember our chorus group sang John Denver’s Country Roads. I remember we practiced that song over and over till the teacher said we were perfect. I can still sing that song today. By high school I was out of music and into dance.

  4. Wow, (mostly) good memories! I took a smidgen of piano from a daycare teacher. I was in choir at church and had a really good teacher, who taught us to sing from our diaphram (sp). I also got to play in the handbell choir a year before I was officially old enough – that was so much fun, and fairly difficult, too. We sang and played bells in the local Mall every Christmas. In school we had various singing classes that were fun. Band began in 6th grade. I was determined to play percussion and the director was adamant that girls did NOT play percussion. But he had to allow me to, so he humiliated me every chance he got. For some reason that made me more determined to play well. I met my husband in high school band. Loved marching and doing half time shows. Joined chorus in high school too, the teacher told me I had perfect pitch, but I don’t sing loudly and preferred singing as part of the group. When i was dating hubby, he and I were in a small group that went around singing and playing at various churches. That’s it in a (rather large) nutshell! 🙂

  5. P.S. One of my sons gave me a beautiful, red snare drum for Christmas a few years back, and I love it sooooo much!

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