The Miserable Music Teacher

This morning on my way to work I was listening to music and I got to thinking about an old music teacher that I had  when I was just a kid.

This guy had a beard and was probably around 40 years old (or at least that’s how I remember him) when I was in his elementary school class.

I remember him always seeming really miserable.  Looking back on it now with a little perspective I sort of constructed in my mind what this guy was going through even if it wasn’t true at all.  You see to be a teacher and to deal with children you really have got to love kids.  And when I say love kids I don’t just mean your own kids because that’s easy, I’m talking about loving all kids in general and their innocence and playfulness and all of that.

But getting back to this particular teacher and my perception of what was going on with him-

I’m thinking that this guy must have been a serious musician and had some pretty stellar gigs playing with fantastic orchestras, traveling around and such but he probably wasn’t making enough money to support himself as a musician by playing in a band.  He loved music, it was his thing.  So thinking to himself, “Well I guess I could get a job teaching music in elementary school.  I love music, so that would be a way for me to pay the bills and do something I love- being involved with music”.

Keep in mind that this is just all how I’m looking at his life 30 something years later and I could be way off base, but to continue-

Do you remember being in music class when you were 8 years old?  It was a shit show, right?  None of your classmates are paying attention.  Every single kid is fucking around and making fart noises in their armpits and passing notes and who the hell can keep the attention of a classroom full of kids for ten minutes let alone teach them how to play in sync and remember the notes and all of that?

The  music teacher who goes into teaching loving kids and understands that it’s going to be a freaking mess probably has a chance at a happy life.  But can you imagine what is going through the mind of the serious musician that really doesn’t have a thing for kids but takes a job as an elementary school music teacher just to pay the bills?  There are teachers out there that are just wired to be teachers, and there are some that just aren’t in the right frame of mind to be.  I don’t remember this music teacher smiling, not once.  It wasn’t the right career choice but I guess that everyone needs to take jobs to pay the bills.

Hopefully you somewhat like what you do and while no job is perfect, that there are some things you can pull out of your work experience that will allow you to smile and laugh at least a little throughout the day.  Because if you can’t smile and laugh at little kids making fart noises what can you laugh at?


  • Don’t for get the crazy nuns that beat on the kids too!


  • At Central Grammer, 1967, 13 & 14 years old, Stuck in that Auditorium, I do regret the unfortunate things we did to make music class miserable. It did not help that on rainy days they would play “3 Stooges” shorts in the auditorium during lunch period. We had music class after that. Not hard math to realize what would result.


  • I think we had the same music teacher. And when I decided to take a position working with kids, he was last in my thought process. I thought instead of the wonderfully creative history teacher in high school who always drew a detailed map on the board in colored chalk, and always had a joke and smile…the gym teacher in elementary who warned the boys that this girl was just as good as any of em…the middle school social studies teacher who lessened the blow of a wrong answer with the silliness of the phrase “flying pigs”. Teaching is truly an art of captivation, compassion, nurturing and sometimes plain old silliness… I’ll take an arm pit fart over a frown any day!


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