Recently I stepped into the Lower School music classroom, where our preschool students were engaged in class with their dedicated music teacher, Ms. Novesky. She was playing a sweet, classical piece on the piano and had instructed the students to pretend they were snowflakes and drift to the ground to the sound of the music. I couldn’t resist. I soon found myself joining them, imagining myself as a beautiful snowflake and magically floating to the music, along with the breeze, slowly… slowly to the ground. Much to my surprise and delight, the students seemed to think my joining them was completely normal! The children were asked to feel, to listen, to artistically interpret–and to be silent. In a way, it was a three-year-old version of a meditation as they felt the rhythm of winter and eventually all slumped on the floor, contributing to a snowpack.
After the snowflake dance, Ms. Novesky passed out magical “ice skates” and gave explicit instructions to the students as they “skated” around the room–on paper plates! At the end of the activity she asked them to describe how the movement on the “skates” felt different than how they had moved before. One of the young girls described how she had to keep her feet solidly on the ground in order to “skate” and glide across the floor. Others shared their feelings and listened to their classmates describe their experience.
When I left the music room, I thought about what an exceptional experience I had just witnessed–in fact participated in–in the life of our students. There was tremendous learning built into a seemingly simple exercise. Students had the opportunity to connect with the music and listen to it and to each other’s feelings. They were able to embrace their creativity through movement and physical expression of the music. They were asked to pay attention and interpret their experience.
There was also a very personal take-away for me: a poignant reminder of the need to pause on occasion from the busyness of the day to creatively connect or even to be still and breathe. It is all too rare a luxury these days, and yet it can be one of the most profound gifts that we can give ourselves. Simplicity. Even silence. There is power and beauty in allowing ourselves to re-connect.