Note: This is a simulblog, being posted on both my D-Theory and Positive Music Place blogs.
In a previous D-Theory blog, I described my use of “Weather Channel” as a safety phrase to keep myself positive when facing life’s day to day annoyances. I have another one now, to do the same when I am teaching music.
Every teacher, music or otherwise, has moments when their job can be trying. I have started using the safety word “Groceries” when I find myself getting negative during a lesson. Why “Groceries?” Well, it just so happens that a couple of days ago I was at a grocery store grabbing a quick snack before giving a lesson, and it occurred to me that, no matter what happens with my job teaching music, I’m not bagging groceries for a living.
Now, in no way do I mean to speak disparagingly of anyone who bags groceries: they’re out there earning an honest living and doing their part for the economy. Many people who work at the market are in the process of getting a college degree; some perhaps are mothers who want to pick up a few extra bucks while their kids are at school. I treat them with respect – just as I treat my waitress with respect.
But all that being said, paper or plastic is just not for me. It’s not that I’m too good for it – it’s too good for me; I would genuinely suck at it. At stores where customers bag their own groceries, I usually make a mess of it.
The point is that just as when I find living in Long Beach, CA to be trying, I can turn on the weather channel and see that it’s better here than virtually anywhere else in the country, I can remind myself that no matter how tiring teaching can get, for me at least it’s better than bagging groceries.
So, how many times have I had to use this new safety word? In the last few days, a few times; but it’s good to have it and use it if it means a better experience for the paying customer, a.k.a. the student. It wouldn’t have been fair for my music teachers to shortchange me.
Another implication of “Groceries” is that, especially in this economy, any job is better than none. Even if the bagger isn’t thrilled about getting up in the morning to go to the supermarket, at least he has a job, which many don’t. And perhaps the bagger has his own safety word too. Maybe between customers he glances at People and sees a picture of a former rock star being led off in cuffs following a public debacle and says to himself, “Musician.”