apology to my percussion class 90507

September 5, 2007

I yelled at you today.
I yelled more than I have in months, and I yelled because it felt good.
I yelled despite the constant warnings:
you’ll just be tired;
no one will listen to you;
you’ll learn, one day.
I threw a chair one time, and that was it.
Full voiced, holding you down to the floor with strong words
I yelled and yelled
and did you listen?
Probably not.

I yelled because it felt right
There was this glittering moment between the four hundred fifty-second time I told you
Don’t tap on your drum!
Don’t tap on your drum!
Don’t tap on your drum!
and the line my temperature crossed
Like the mercury of my patience was in some footrace to get out of my mouth.
And I took that moment
I thought for split seconds
ballistic rapid fire
like seizures that break down dams and horse-trainers
I thought for split seconds
that sizzled out of the pan and onto my tongue
That this lashing would be worth your while.

I do this for your benefit, I said.
I do this because I want you to succeed, I said.
I yelled anyway, despite all better notions.

Strings of insults and commendations sprayed from my mouth like weed killer
and I held you down like a monster holds his daughter
down to the floor, where your eyes, each of them
glazed over, and you were nothing
but some sweet pastry I was to snack on
Just for now,
because, I swear to God, it felt good
It felt right.

I yelled at you because I thought you needed it.
And when I lied the very next hour
about how much I loved you, each of you
and in my mind declared each of you to be horrible creatures to be punished.

I yelled at you because I wanted to feel right
feel justified and qualified,
rectified out of the slump of missed diddle patterns and
that sloppy buzz roll I never quit nailed down.

And there you sat
silent as acid
lost in sticker patches of diffidence,
pieces of you flying off like ice chips, while I tried to sculpt you into
The musician I might one day make you
And you didn’t care.

Little did I know (though how I knew, how I knew)
Heat is little effective for the ice sculptor
who makes his work, only watching it wash away slowly.

This is my apology to you
And a notice that I nail to the church doors of this band hall
this finite sanctum that I’ve held dear and holy
That I did not lie the very next hour (I love you each one)
but that I broke my own heart
By not being the teacher
if for only ten minutes
I know you needed.



  1. Like I said, I rather like this one.

    The thing is, I felt your regret during the entire piece, but what seems so interesting is that you feel like you weren’t being a teacher. I think this is a part of that authoritarian principle I was asking you if you’re starting to master the other day. Now, I think there is a difference between calling a sniveling kid a doo-doo head and giving constructive criticism, and if it was the former, then dude, give yourself a bit of a leash – this is your first year.

    (Just take it as an experience to learn about yourself. Thank them for helping teach you that.)

    If you really felt it was just volatile rage, then reign it in. Make it something tangible that you need to control in yourself, but in the future, know that that piece of you is there.

    Okay, this had nothing constructive about the poem. *cough* But then you know I dig repetition in poetry. Makes my heart glad. ^_^

  2. I feel that way sometimes…I’m a band director too.
    I’ve read a few of your posts and it’s nice to know there’s somewhat a community of music educators blogging out there. I’m discovering it really helps keep me sane. Keep it up!

  3. Where areeeeeeeeeeeee you?

    [We miss you and the royal we demands new posting. *insert some sort of ‘Off with your head’ quote here.*]

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