Why we continue to work ourselves to a nub

The middle school winter concert is just over, it’s your seventeenth, and even though you’ve done winter concerts since your hair was its original color and you knew the names of bands on the radio, putting on a concert just doesn’t get any less exhausting.

But everyone at school realizes just how much work goes into putting on a concert, right? They couldn’t possibly think that the kids just show up at the concert and play the pieces? Everyone is definitely is aware that:

  • You’ve painstakingly taught every note of music and then repeated every passage 2,436 times until most of the students have got most of it right;
  • You’ve lavished the kids with praise, positive affirmations, and motivational talk until your tongue has become swollen
  • you haven’t had every kid together at a rehearsal since early October
  • you’ve had to beg the principal for extra rehearsal time and become a little less popular among your colleagues for taking kids out of their exam prep classes
  • You’ve begged the kids to come to extra rehearsals, and then you’ve crammed rehearsals into assembly times, before school, after school, during lunchtime
  • you’ve run to Kinko’s that day to print the programs and flyers, then run back to school because the Kinko computer doesn’t have the font you use on their computer, then back to Kinkos where there is a now a long line.

After the concert, even though the principal thanks you for doing a good job, you walk away feeling a little short changed.

But then, you think about it. You remember the joy of looking into the students faces as they sung and played. You think about the culmination of all that work: they finally got that tricky passage right. You could see that they were nervous, blushing, and exhilarated on the stage in front of their family and friends. And they made a great sound – they did, because you made no sound during the performance.

And that’s why we do it. Even when our colleagues, parents, and administrators have no idea how much work goes into it, even when we receive no special recognition for all the extra work we put into making the concert the best it could be. We do it for the joy and accomplishment of our students and the hope that they will pass on their skills and experiences to others.