Slice of Life, Weekly Challenge, Chapter 11

(This is part of a weekly feature called Slice of Life Project)

I have a student with a form of Autism and other health issues and the combination of those two elements make connecting with him difficult at times. That said, he is such a wonderful kid — full of insight and intellect and interesting things to observe about the world. I have loved having him in my class this year and I worry about his transition to a new school next year.

One of his hobbies is Guitar Hero. He comes in with cardboard guitars and shows me his latest moves on the electronic fretboards. He loves music. During our poetry unit, when students were working on a final poem, he was absent for a few days, as happens with his diabetes. He came back in and handed me what he said was his final poem but which was a song that he had written. He said he did not have a melody in mind but I was blown away by what he had done. Writing is an incredibly difficult task for him. To have written lyrics to a song was a major accomplishment. And to address the theme of Life, and the emotions connected with how he sees life, was just amazing.  I tried to get him to publish it as a poem in our book via Lulu, but he flat out said “no” to me.

So I began to ponder how to connect with him through music. I took his lyrics home and let them sit and simmer on the shelf for a few weeks. I’d look at them and think about them, pull out my guitar from time to time. I was not in a rush. I was still trying to wrap a melody around his words.

This weekend, it finally came together, and I recorded a version of his song. I am going to surprise him with a CD version of it and I printed out a copy of the words (only slightly modified to match the structure of the music I had written) in fancy print. My hope is that is shines a light on him as a songwriter and allows him to see some real meaning to his writing abilities.

Yesterday, I pulled him aside during library time and brought him back to our room. I told him I had a present for him, reminded him of his lyrics and let him know I found them to be powerful and I wanted to put them to music. He looked at me with big eyes. Then, I handed him the fancy lyric sheet and popped in the CD and we listened to the song together. He smiled a huge smile and said, “It has been great to have you as a teacher, too, Mr. Hodgson.” We did our own special handshake and later, he told the paraprofessional that he now had a “sacred song.”

Yeah.

Here is the song and you can listen to the podcast version, too (complete with my cold/stuffed nose voice):

Life

When I look into the sky
And I see the butterfly
It makes me want to cry
to think it could die

So I strum on my guitar
I know it can get me far
It doesn’t matter who you are
you’re a star

It’s sweet notes make me happy
Forgive me if it sounds sappy

Life can be bad – bad
Life can make you mad – mad
At times, it even makes you sad
But if you look around and focus
You might see the blooming crocus
And then you’ll know to be glad
because life can’t all be bad

Good things come and go
You have to go with the flow
Some thing we just don’t know
take it slow

Enjoy all that life brings
Like the glimmer of strings
So I sit here and play my guitar and I sing

It’s sweet notes make me happy
Forgive me if it sounds sappy

(repeat chorus)

Peace (in connecting through music),
Kevin

6 Comments
  1. The song never loaded :( and when I click on the words I get an error message. I’d love to hear the song – can you tell me what I’m doing wrong? (ooh! that rhymes!)

  2. What a beautiful thing to do! You made my eyes fill with tears. I don’t know how you sang through the song without losing it! Thanks for sharing a slice of your life. Even though it’s pretty hot here (Toronto), the warm fuzzy feeling your musical gesture generated was really nice!

  3. Kevin, you so totally rock! It’s true that I’m fairly weepy tonight, but I think I’d have teared up reading this no matter what. You gave him so much more than ‘just’ a sacred song (how cool is that, btw), but the knowledge that his words have weight, that they mean something and can say something important to other people. So fantastic.

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