Written by Anagha KJ, Music Teacher on 08 April 2021
My most special story as a music teacher started with a second standard student.
I was about to start my first music class at Jubilee School, NRI Layout, Bengaluru. The school had enrolled all its students to take the Shankar Mahadevan Academy’s Grow With Music program in the academic year of 2019.
I walked into my music classroom for the first time – I remember it was Grow With Music’s blended program for students of Grade 2. As soon as I entered the classroom, I just asked the children, "Those of you who love music raise your hands".
Suddenly, one boy stood up and declared loudly, "I hate music”. I was shocked. How can a 7-year old boy hate music? The boy who hated music was Anirudh Sreekumar.
The whole class stared at Anirudh. The children were all scared that I would scold Anirudh for what he said. They nervously waited for me to respond to him. I simply asked Anirudh, “But why?" Anirudh did not offer any reason. He just repeated that he didn't like music. I let that be for the moment, and chose not to respond to what he said.
From the next day onwards when I entered the classroom Anirudh would shut his ears and sit. This happened for days together. I had two choices: one, completely ignore him; two, deal with his behaviour and gradually get him to participate in the class. I decided that I was not prepared to ignore Anirudh. If I ignored him he might not change – ever.
So I wondered to myself the reason behind Anirudh’s behaviour. Was he just trying to seek the attention of the class? Initially, I did not feel so because he would shut his ears and sit in each and every class. I started thinking about what I could do to draw Anirudh from his non-cooperation movement :) Maybe it indeed was his way of asking for attention. I decided to work on that angle.
From the next class onwards I started devoting attention to Anirudh. Slowly, I noticed a change. When I gave him attention I found that he would listen to what I taught in class. I also observed that, more than singing, he liked to understand concepts of music. I now felt I had a hold on the problem.
In the days that followed, I wouldn’t ever compel Anirudh to learn something. To open his mind to start learning I decided to turn to another ally of teachers – recognition. I made sure I always gave Anirudh recognition in class. For instance, if any student found it difficult to figure out any phrase or answer I would tell the class maybe Anirudh knows it.
I understood that Anirudh liked getting attention and recognition. I would reward every tiny effort by him to listen in class with “stars and smileys”. Anirudh loved it.
As time went on I found a leap in Anirudh’s grades – they advanced from D to A grades in the music assessments I did in class. I also saw that when I entered class Anirudh would have a happy face. Anirudh was a changed boy.
As a teacher, the biggest pleasure for me was changing the attitude of a second-standard child towards music. The same boy who used to shut his ears when music class started is now asking for his favourite songs to play and sing. His great interest lies in answering questions related to musical concepts – he finds true happiness in doing that.
Teacher—Grow With Music,
Shankar Mahadevan Academy