This is my version of “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Some of my favorite aspects of teaching are hearing how children interpret what I say, hearing how they understand (or don’t) what I’m trying to teach them, and just hearing the crazy things they say.
Training my service dog Moxie to greet people appropriately, I reminder her that “people are good; we like people.” Without missing a beat, Grace (6th grade) said, “Yeah, I have to remind myself of that, too.”
Vocabulary review today with Boaz (7th grade):
Me: Which of those words means “at a walking pace?”
Me: Yes! That’s right.
Boaz: Ooo! I like my pasta andante!
I taught online through Zoom during the 2020-2021 school year. One challenge of Zoom, especially for those of us of a certain age, is mis-hearing.
Russell (4th grade) said, “Hang on – I have to go stop my dog from eating another blanket.”
What I heard was: “Hang on – I have to go stop my dad from eating another blanket.”
My thoughts were: 1. Why is your dad eating a blanket? 2. Wait – why is your dad eating *another* blanket?!
Jacob (9th grade) makes mistake…
Jacob: What the heck was that?!
Me: I don’t know – you’re the one playing.
Jacob: Well you’re the one teaching.
I sometimes talk to the kids’ fingers when they’re making mistakes. On one particularly frustrating day, Grace (5th grade) held her hands in front of her face, all 10 fingers spread, and said to them, “Come on, guys! Work with me!”
Another student once said, “My brain tells my fingers what to do, but sometimes they just don’t listen!”
Working on sonatinas, learning all 3 movements, and I’m emphasizing the need for contrasts between movements. (Bear in mind we’re in Montana, so we spend a *lot* of time on the highways.)
Russell (4th grade): Oh, I get it! The first movement is like you’re cruising down the highway. Then second movement is like going through a small town – it’s short and you have to slow down. Then the third movement, you’re back on the highway!
“Ms. Stephanie, do you have any ‘oops tape?'” – Candy (2nd grade) It took me a minute to realize, based on context, that she meant white-out tape.
A tangled tongue resulted in Leyton (5th grade) calling the dots under/over notes “staquatos” instead of “staccatos.” Needless to say, it stuck.
We were talking about not sitting too close to the keyboard because it “squishes” your arms up too close to your body. Leyton put his arms up in his shirt so only his hands were sticking out and said: “Like dinosaur arms. I hate dinosaur arms because I can’t itch where I wanna itch!” – Leyton (5th grade)
Upon seeing quotation marks: “They look like macaroni!” – Beau (4th grade)
Interpreting: quarter rest – quarter rest – repeat sign:
“Sh…sh…boing!” – Kinley (Kindergarten)
“I just can’t stop playing this song because it’s so much fun to play!” -Leyton (4th grade)
When playing a fast-paced music symbol card game, Kayci encountered “slur” for the first time. The first few times it came up, though, she would yell:
“SLURP!!” -Kayci (4th grade)
Reviewing tempi in a three-movement sonatina:
Me: “This first movement is marked ‘Allegro.’ What does that mean?”
Me: “Yes. Good! The second movement is ‘Adagio,’ and that means…”
Answer: “Walking speed.”
Me: “Good job! OK, the third and final movement is marked ‘Presto.’ Do you know what that means?”
Answer: “It’s magic!”
-Julianna (6th grade)
Upon seeing “8va” during a flashcard quiz:
“Oh…I should know this…I can’t think of what it’s called, but it reminds me of a drink!” -Leyton (4th grade)
“This is so much fun, I just want to stay here forever! I want to live here!” -Shelby (age 4)
Upon seeing two beamed eighth notes during a flashcard quiz:
“I don’t know what those are, but they look like headphones!” -Landon (2nd grade)
Upon seeing an eighth rest during a flashcard quiz:
“It looks like a pregnant ‘seven’.” -Beau (3rd grade)
“What happens in piano lessons stays in piano lessons.”
“Yeah, especially if you don’t practice!” -Julianna (6th grade)
Explaining a double bar line versus a repeat sign: “The double bar, with the thick line, acts like a wall. When you hit the wall, the piece is over. But when you add two dots, those are like bumpers and they bounce you back to play the section over again.”
“Or maybe they make a magic portal that transports you back to a different place in the piece.” -Sydney (3rd grade)
With a young, new student: “How did you know that?”
“Well, I am pretty smart, you know.” -Kinley (age 5)
Learning about time signatures: “So in this time signature, which note gets one count?”
“Um…the first one?” -Kendra (7th grade)
The first glimpse of a young one developing and understanding humor:
“Ms. Stephanie, you drew that 11 backwards!” -Carson (age 6)
Kellan was my first student; he began lessons with me in 2009. After people at church heard him play and found out that I was his teacher, I started getting requests to teach their children. Upon hearing that my studio had grown but was still full:
“It’s all because of me, you know.” -Kellan (5th grade)
When he heard that Grandma didn’t have a piano at her house:
“Five days without a piano?! How am I supposed to go five days without a piano?!” -Kellan (1st grade)