Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Old Time Christmas Concerts in One Room Country Schools

        Yes, I am old enough to have been in a Christmas concert in a one room country school. In fact, I performed in eight Christmas concerts.

       One of my fellow bloggers has touched on these concerts. I like reading local histories. The local history from my area is full of comments about school Christmas concerts. People have many reasons for looking back at these performances with nostalgia. For many kids the evening was extremely exciting. Others took great pleasure in their performances. Others liked the activity of preparing for the concert. Some teachers were masters in producing an excellent concert and getting amazing performances from young kids. Many teachable moments occurred during the preparation for these concerts.  Kids learned music, set design, dance, acting and a ton of self discipline. Kids gained confidence from performing in front of an audience. Kids received positive feedback. As a result of the good old school concert much learning and growth took place. The teacher probably aged prematurely.

       My memories of school Christmas concerts is pretty sparse. I remember being in a small "drill " with my brother when we were in grade one and two. We were in elf costumes that were made from construction paper. Brown paper shoes and green hats. When our spot was on the concert we went out and the music played. During the performance one of us stepped on a thumb tack. We stopped. One little fellow raised his foot and the other took out the tack and then we continued. The piano player had to adjust and play a few more bars for us to complete our routine. Our parents to their deaths always remembered and laughed about our performance. Parents were always excited and proud of their childrens' performance.

     Other things I remember is that regular classes ceased during the three or four weeks of preparation. Sometimes it was boring as the teacher worked with other kids practising their parts. Sometimes I got into trouble while having nothing to keep me occupied.

    Now I was also old enough to teach in a one room country school. I went out to teach in an isolated school before I had my nineteenth birthday. There were ten students in this school. I knew that parents expected the teacher to put on a Christmas concert. I was petrified as had not a clue what to do and had little talent in music and performance. The school board was wise and extremely thoughtful. They came to me well before concert time and said let's not have a concert. We would rather have the kids stick to the curriculum. Whew!!! They decided to have a little celebration the last afternoon of school. They brought lots of goodies and made a big boiler of coffee. All parents and preschool children attended as well as some people in the district who did not have children in the school. The kids exchanged gifts and were given gifts from the school board. Everybody had a great time and went home happy. It would have been very difficult to put on a concert as out of the ten kids three of them were grade one. The teacher in Louisville school in 1958-59(me) learned more than any student that year. These people also gave me so much support that I decided to return to university and get a teaching degree.

     So my Christmas concert experience was from two points of view.  I know that I enjoyed both sides of the fence and learned from my experience. I also have some very pleasant memories to look back on.

     Please feel free to tell me about your Christmas concert experiences. I'd love to hear about them.