Dear Mr Gove…Sunday Poem – Kim Moore

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Evening all!I’m back!  My residency at the Poetry School is about to finish – in fact I wrote my last article and sent it through to Will Barrett on Friday evening and I think it will probably go up some time next week.  It has been an amazing experience and I’m really glad I had the opportunity to do the residency.  If you would like to see what I’ve been up to, hop over to The Poetry School.  If you click on this link

http://campus.poetryschool.com/poetwisdom-manifesto/

you can find my version of a manifesto which is a list of ‘don’ts’ (very tongue in cheek of course). They are all true – either I have done them myself (not many of them) or I have witnessed them happen, or a friend has told me about them.

If you click on this link you can find an essay called ‘Just One Poem’ which is about sending poems to magazines.

http://campus.poetryschool.com/just-one-poem/

I’ve also been writing logbooks and running workshops – it has been really busy, but really exciting.

Starting from next week, normal Sunday Poem service will be resumed.  My new resolution is to be more organised and try and get my Sunday Poets lined up a month in advance and I do have the next three Sunday Poets waiting and ready to go.

I’ve been procrastinating about what to do with a poem that I wrote during the residency which is a letter to Michael Gove.  It was published on the Poetry School blog as part of my notebook, so I’m guessing it counts as being published now, and I don’t think a magazine would take it.  thought today would be a good day to post it though, having just got back from the Kirby Lonsdale Brass Band competition where my junior band took first place, their second win in as many months.  There were about 80 children in three different brass bands taking part – all playing musical instruments with varying degrees of ability.  I know I have put lots of links in this post, but if you ignore all of the rest, please click on the following ones, which give a bit of context and background into what is going on with music education at the minute.

The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/music/tomserviceblog/2014/jun/05/music-education-england-michael-gove

This is scary stuff – not just because my job is in trouble.  As you can see from reading the article – there are huge cuts coming to music services and it seems that they are being sneaked through.  I didn’t know about them till I read the above article.

Currently many schools opt in for ‘First Access’ tuition where a whole class gets instrumental tuition for a year.  After that, there are three options the school can take.  Option 1 and only taken by 1 of my schools at present is to keep increasing so that the class gets another year of free tuition with the brilliant masterplan of the whole of KS2 learning to play an instrument.  Option 2 and the most popular option is the children who want to carry on and can afford to pay for small group lessons do so.  Option 3 is that whole class of children do nothing with the skills and talent they have acquired and a new class gets the instruments in September.  Music education, at least after the first year is already the preserve of people who can afford it.

It is difficult, if not impossible to quantify the effects that learning an instrument can have on children – it is not something that can be measured, or maybe if it is, we haven’t find the tool to measure it with yet – and I’m not talking about a ten year old girl getting her Grade 2 on the trumpet after two years of playing, although these are good achievements as well – I’m talking about a child who was so shy when she first came to band that she cried at every rehearsal because she wanted to go home, who now runs into rehearsal and forgets to say goodbye to her mum.  Anyway – what I’m talking about is in the poem – and I am winding myself up even more writing this post.

I keep thinking about today – and how happy the kids were when they got off the bus.  I heard two of them saying to each other ‘We’re invincible now.’ and the other one replied ‘yeah we’re unstoppable’. How do we measure or quantify that feeling?  Of course they are not – we know this as adults and it might only be next year when another junior band comes along and wins…but how amazing that they felt that when they were young – to have that confidence in themselves.

Phew.  Rant over.  I promise after this I will hold back from any music education rant-posts.  But if you enjoyed it, google ‘Dear Mr Gove’ and you will find many, many letters to him written by parents, teachers and this amazing video by poet Jess Green who is also writing from the viewpoint of a teacher.

The problem seems to be that nobody, least of all Michael Gove, is listening.

There is a website with a petition running at http://www.protectmusiceducation.org/ – please have a look and sign if you feel able to.

Dear Mr Gove – Kim Moore

dear mr gove today I taught the children not to sit like bags of small potatoes in their chairs I taught them how to breathe with their bellies like babies do when they are sleeping we pretended we were balloons of different colours filling up with air dear mr gove we played long note beat that we looked up who holds the world record for the longest note it was a clarinet player who managed to play for one minute and thirteen seconds without taking a breath we held our notes as if we were monks singing a drone in a cathedral where the roof rises like a giant wing against the sky dear mr gove today the whole class played hot cross buns we talked about the great height of the note E we held thin blue straws between our lips and some of us went on to play an E and some of us fell towards a low A with its ledger line piled above it and another piercing its poor head dear mr gove we are brilliant at trying some of us know what crotchets and minims are and we will know this all our lives but some of still call them black and white notes we make up sayings to help us read music like Elephants Go Bananas Doing Flips like Electric Green Brains Dance forever we play the riff to Eye of The Tiger and sing along in the voices of tigers if tigers had voices like ours and today we remembered to stop dancing and singing and pick our instruments up in time today Mrs Jackson forgot how to play a D and Harry told her which valves to press I do not know how to measure this mr gove please send help and there is also the problem of Matthew who cannot read or write too well but who can play mary had a little lamb with perfect pitch there is the problem of his smile afterwards and how we write this down today we watched the muppets singing bohemian rhapsody for no good reason other than that it was fun and while I am confessing small transgressions last week we watched mr bean play an invisible drum kit the children have been playing an invisible drum kit in the playground dear mr gove I did not stop them today we talked about the muscles in the lip and tongue we did not know we had control of so many muscles we tried to look like musicians mr gove please help us

 

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4 responses »

  1. Lovely to have you back….my Sundays have not been quite complete. And thank you for’Dear Mr Gove’. A much more moving and considered piece than my fervent and oft-repeated prayer that I could have 5 minutes trapped in a lift. Just me and him and his pouty bottom lip. I’ve had great fun reading the prosepoem out aloud and seeing how I can manage the breathing. Not well . But that’s smokers for you. Now I have to go and write my blog post. Why do we do this to ourselves?

  2. Amen to all that, Kim – and again I say, Amen! Teachers join the profession to enrich the lives of ALL children, not just those whose parents can afford to pay. When I took up the violin, aged ten, I was given that opportunity because tuition and instrument loan in Lincs was free.

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