6th Grade Blues

I had a bad day at school yesterday.  It wasn’t my first and I know it won’t be my last.  I spent all first semester getting used to middle school.  In all honesty, I’m not there yet – almost, but….not….quite….there….yet.  Anyway, it doesn’t help that when people in my class are talking the reading teacher sent the whole class out in the hall, where we stayed almost the entire class period.  I mean really, what purpose did that serve?  So, the kids who were talking in the classroom were now the kids who were talking in the hallway and all the rest of us who weren’t talking were punished by missing class and sitting in the hall while the teacher yelled at us.  I have the 6th grade blues!

Then there’s band – my favorite class.  Not!  Well, I am not the biggest fan of my teacher.  Let’s call him Mr. Band Teacher.  I don’t think he likes me very much.  My mom says that every kid who is having trouble in a class thinks the teacher doesn’t like them very much.  She did, however, go on to cite a few circumstances where it was actually true – with her teacher and my sister’s teacher and my brother’s teachers.  Notice his is teachers, plural.  So, why not me, I protested.  For example, my teacher has chair tests, where he gives us something to play on our instruments and then grades us and ranks us by how we did.  First chair is best in a section of instruments and so on.  We have these chair tests several times a week.  I get first chair in the clarinet section a lot, but I have also dropped to sixth or seventh, which I hate.  And I swear that sometimes when I make first chair, he doesn’t move me to first chair, but if I screw up that day, he makes sure I get my behind into that last chair.  I’ve seen him do this to other kids who play other instruments in different sections too.  When my mom called him on this, he said that sometimes it’s a chair test and sometimes it’s just an “assessment” and that I have been misunderstanding the difference.  You know what I say to that……bull hockey!!!

Well, yesterday, he did it again.  I got second chair this time and I played perfectly.  I practiced all weekend.  I practice that stupid clarinet every single night, as a matter of fact.  And back in December I started having a weekly lesson with a really good clarinet player in my brother’s high school band.  She’s first chair clarinet and drum major in the marching band.  She also made the state-wide honor band.  And what did Mr. Band Teacher do?  He gave first chair to a girl who squeaked on both “Go Tell Aunt Rhody” and “Michael Finnigan.”  I didn’t squeak!  My mom said that either he has a rationale behind what he is doing, some great teaching method or something, or else he is just being plain old unfair.  I vote for plain old unfair!!!  I have the 6th grade blues!

The kid who hasn’t brought his instrument to school in a week because it has been broken is still sitting in first chair.  He’s been sitting there through each and every chair test and he hasn’t been moved to last chair for not bringing his instrument to school.  Is that fair to the kids in his section who have their instruments?  I think not.  And yesterday, Mr. Band Teacher took my phone when I looked at it to check the time.  There’s no clock on the wall in our classroom.  He said that it didn’t matter what time it was and that I shouldn’t need to check the time.  My friend, who shall remain nameless, however, got in trouble earlier during class for being on Instagram.  Instagram!  And all he told her to do was to put her phone away.  And she’s the last chair in the clarinet section.  She’s always the last chair.  She hates band, doesn’t practice, and always gets in trouble.  It’s true; Mr. Band Teacher doesn’t like me.  Well, guess what, Mr. Band Teacher?  I don’t like you either!  My mom said that she will speak to him about all of this during parent teacher conference in the spring.  She said life wasn’t fair, blah, blah, blah.  She said that sometimes issues are too petty and incidents are too small to bring up and constantly be in somebody else’s face about.  She agreed that the guy is a jerk, but said this is a lesson in how not to treat others and what it is important to be fair.  She also said that I was learning a bigger life lesson – coping skills.  I don’t want to learn any coping skills.  I want Mr. Band Teacher to blow away and shrivel up like autumn leaves!  And I want what I earned, every single time I earn it, and that’s the position of first chair!  I have the 6th grade blues!

And then there was science, I made a “C” on my test.  I don’t like to make “C’s.”  That’s more my brother’s area of expertise than it is mine.  I studied, but apparently not well enough.  Sixth grade requires more time studying too.  And to top it all off, somebody accidentally hit me in the face with their lanyard yesterday and I slipped on the wet floor on the way to lunch and ripped my tights.  Good thing I listened to my mom and wore shorts under my dress, or my hiney would have been hanging out for the entire sixth grade to see.  I am half way through it and I can’t wait for this school year to be over with and for the 6th grade blues to go away.

Band……I Knew I Should Have Taken Wood Shop!!!


Image courtesy of baballa.com

Just as I promised in my last blog post, today’s post is about band.  As you know, I started middle school this year and along with middle school is the opportunity to try some new things.  For the first time, I am enrolled in band.  I actually didn’t choose band, my parents chose it for me.  Sigh……  Just when I get to choose some of the classes that I am in, the elective that they come up with is band?  And because band is a class that lasts all year long, it actually counts as four electives out of the eight that I am allowed, leaving me only four others to choose from!  My sister was in band in middle school and high school.  She played the trombone – a beast of an instrument that I don’t know why anyone would want to play.  The sheer size of it alone is ridiculous!  My brother was in band in middle school too and he’s in the high school band right now.  He plays the saxophone.  It’s a woodwind instrument.  He’s really good, which is really annoying.  His high school band teacher comes to my school to help teach our band classes and my middle school teacher goes to the high school to help teach his band class, so basically we have the same band teachers.  Sigh again……  And both of these teachers also taught my sister.

Well, needless to say, band hasn’t been as easy for me as it was for them.  I play the clarinet.  It’s also a woodwind instrument.  Some people learn to play the clarinet before they learn to play the saxophone.  Not my brother, of course, he went straight to the saxophone.  So, he considers my clarinet to be an “inferior” instrument.  Did I mention that my brother was annoying?  Well, we are in about the fifteenth week of school and I’m still not used to this whole being in band/playing the clarinet thing.

Putting it together.
The reeds – getting them wet and attaching them to the mouthpiece.
Getting enough air into my lungs.
Holding my mouth the right way with the corners tight so that no air escapes.  This is called embrasure.
Blowing with the correct amount of pressure.
Getting the right finger positions on the keys.
Reading the music.
The squeaking!
The pool of spit that’s left on my leg when we are holding the instrument!


Last Thursday, the sixth grade had a “demonstration” concert.  Not a “music” concert.  Not a real concert.  Not a concert like what I’ve been going to and watching my brother play in all these years.  But a “demonstration” concert.  We were divided up into sections by instrument – flutes, clarinets, saxophones, trumpets, trombones, and percussion.  When we got to the clarinet section, we demonstrated our “small instruments,” which is just blowing into the mouthpiece before it is attached to the rest of the instrument; fingering, which just means moving our fingers along the keys; and then we played three songs, Hot Cross Buns, Go Tell Aunt Rhodie, and Merrily We Roll Along.  We squeaked; we played the wrong notes; we survived to play another day!  The whole demonstration lasted an hour.  When it was finally over, I was relieved.