by Rachelle Allen
I have been a teacher in the creative and performing arts for thirty-eight years, and these are the lessons I learned from the lessons I taught.
For the majority of piano teachers I know, the song they forbid their students to play in their presence is Heart and Soul. There are only so many repetitions a person can bear to hear in a lifetime.
But I would gladly listen to --and even participate in-- a thousand choruses of Heart and Soul if I never again had to hear even five notes of the over-sung Hanukkah tune I Have A Little Dreydl. (So WHAT if I’m Jewish.)
With all the gorgeous melodies my tribesmen have composed throughout the centuries, how this obnoxious little ditty ever came to be so universally recognized and sung, I cannot understand. To me, it is the Jewish equivalent of This is the Song That Never Ends. All I know is that I flatly refuse to allow my students to play it.
This all started my fifth year of teaching, when I had an exceptionally large Jewish clientele and copies of The Dreydl Song that I doled out to them all. By the last day before vacation, four weeks later, I had to go to that Safe Place Where No One Can Hurt Me in my mind whenever a student began to serenade me with it.
Finally, after finishing the lesson at the last house on the last day before December Break, my adorable little eight-year-old student presented me with a gorgeously wrapped box.
"Happy Hanukkah!" she shouted. "Open it now!"
"Okay!" I began tearing away the beautiful blue and gold foil paper. Inside, was a large, expensive-looking mug in blue and creamy white with lavish Judaic designs all over it. "Oh, this is spectacular!" I exclaimed.
"Pretend you’re drinking out of it," my little angel urged with eyes that twinkled with excitement.
"Okay," I smiled, loving her enthusiasm.
I put the cup to my lips, tilted my head back, and heard a tinkly music box play very loudly: I HAVE A LITTLE DREYDLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL
That beautiful cup has a permanent spot at the very, very back of my mug cupboard. And there it will be for generations to come. I know this because I made my husband cement it to the shelf paper.
Lesson: One must take whatever steps necessary to avoid madness
NEXT: Ensuring students learn what they are no longer allowed to have in school: The Holiday Songs Challenge.