Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Ice cream.

Last week, I made up a new batch of music flash cards for my younger students. I drew cards for all the usual stuff: quavers, semibreves, crotchet rests, treble clefs, various notes on the stave. Then, on one of the cards I drew an icecream, a yellow cone with a pink scoop and blue sprinkles. I don't even really know why I did it; it was just a random moment of whimsy to surprise the kids, I guess.

This week I've been trialling the new cards and the kids have been enjoying it. Anything that's a bit new is a little surprise all of its own. But the first time I took one of my students through the new flashcards, I was the one who was surprised. "Minim," my little student said. "Bass clef. Mezzo forte. Ice cream. Middle C." She just sailed right on by the ice cream cone without skipping a beat.

She wasn't the only one. It's happened with every single student so far. Some of them grin. Some of them laugh a little as they speak the word. But not one of them blinks when the unexpected thing appears. That to me is itself unexpected, and it's delightful.

I think this probably wouldn't happen with adults. I think that, if I showed the flashcards to my friends, they'd say, "Why'd you put the ice cream in there? What's that got to do with anything?" At the very least, they might say, "Ice cream?" with their voice sliding up on the end to suggest the question. Not the emphatic and certain "Ice cream" I've heard from each of the kids.

It feels like there's a metaphor in there somewhere. Something about hope or miracles or even having the faith of a little child. Something about not yet being so programmed to think that everything must make sense, that there must be a proper order for everything.

But I'm just gonna let it sit and simmer for a while. And I'll keep grinning as the little ones go through their music terminology and without skipping a beat shout out "Icecream!" every time.


  1. Haha that's awesome. I agree I think there's a lesson in there for us!

  2. Beautiful as always, Danielle. Both your words and your photo lift us up and make us think and smile. Well done! :)

  3. I love this! I just might have to try this out on my piano students. Flashcards get old fast, at least with my students they do, and this sounds like a good way to mix things up! It would be interesting to see what happened if I hid a few "Easter eggs" in the flashcards each would probably help the children focus more.

    Thanks so much for sharing!

    Dani from A Vapor in the Wind

  4. I absolutely love that anecdote, Danielle! And I agree there's deeper meaning there. :)

  5. One of the things that I find most delightful about young children is that they are trying to figure out how to order and sort the things in their world. My 2-year-old niece is currently insistent that white chocolate is "yummy cheese." Language, and the way we "naturally" (socially!) order things is pretty wacky!

  6. Coolest music teacher ever! Big thumbs up!


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