December 27, 2012

Teaching Opera

I swear, the life of a teacher is filled with obstacles that would never have crossed my mind before teaching.

Remember that my class consists of nine 3 and 4 year olds and I teach a lot of things that the average pre-K teacher might not, like Opera, Spanish, and American History. It's almost January and I try to focus on one opera and one ballet each month and I wanted January's ballet to be Swan Lake and the Opera to be The Magic Flute. A little optimistic, but I still think it can be done.

Each lesson I plan begins at the library where I order books, videos, and CDs to the point that the children's librarian knows my name. In planning for next month I was very excited to find a DVD of The Magic Flute performed by the Zurich Opera! Last night, just because I love the music and haven't seen the opera in years, I poured a glass of wine and popped it into my laptop (the DVD, not the wine). If you've ever seen this opera you know that it opens with a prince being chased by a serpent. Well in this particular adaption that serpent was played by a topless woman wrapped in a snake. Yup, not exactly age appropriate for my pre-K class, so now I need to find a version with less nudity. Good thing I screened it first because answering those questions in class would have been tough (though not as tough as answering to the parents after class).

So I went to school today slightly disappointed that I didn't have the opera, but excited that I had also come across Swan Lake performed in 1967 by the Vienna Stage Ballet. OK, so most of you are thinking "is she serious?" Trust me, if you enjoy ballet, this is a good version.

So I planned to show the ballet to my class this morning, but we had a lot of rain today. Why does that matter? Because the excessive rain caused the fumes from the heater in the preschool classroom to be pinned to the outside wall and forced back into the building. The preschool and toddler classes had to evacuate their classroom and, because my room is across the hall and the heater is working fine, they ended up with me for the morning. 20 kids between the ages of 1 1/2 and 5 years crammed into a classroom that holds nine kids at the most. Their room wasn't cleared until after lunch when, finally, we sat down to watch the ballet.

Well, we really didn't sit down. The kids took out all their dress up costumes and put on a parallel performance of Swan lake as we watched the film, pausing occasionally for costume changes and questions. I was the evil magician who changes Odett into a swan. We also had Odett, Odell, the prince, a conductor, a stage manager, and spider man (One of the kids was being argumentative). It all went really well and we had a great time, but did you remember that the prince drowns in the end? I didn't. Even in a ballet it's obvious what's happening so my kids got an impromptu lesson in theatrical tragedies.

I was exhausted by the time I got home, but my roommate had venison waiting for me. She's never had it so I cooked it up and had a very nice meal. So nice that I'm ready to go do this teaching thing again tomorrow!


  1. Heyyyyyyyyyyyyyy ash; 3 and 4 year olds in school , I don't get it. I was 6 when i started (sure would have been nice to start grade 1 when i was 5, then could have got done school sooner.)

  2. You are doing a great thing introducing these young children to things like opera and ballet! Even if they did a parallel performance you still have started them learning about it! I had the opportunity to see The Magic Flute at Spoleto last spring and it was wonderful! Keep up the good work!

    1. I'm so jealous! I'd love to see the Magic Flute live.

  3. You are an absolutely awesome teacher! Those kids are lucky to have you.


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