artists / musicians / Teaching / Uncategorized

Voices: Small to Loud


As a substitute teacher, I have the advantage of floating around various grade levels in the local schools in my city. This allows me the opportunity to listen and observe students from preschool through 12th grade. I enjoy seeing the world through their eyes and listening to their thoughts, and I was just considering my experiences last week.

In preschool, there can be a lot of drama. These little kiddos wear their hearts on their sleeves; they are at that tender age where they are learning how to navigate the world, how to get along, and how to share resources. The trouble comes in understanding their little voices that sometimes fade as they are talking to you and you are listening….with old ears.

As I surveyed the children playing merrily on the playground, at least merrily for the first ten seconds of recess, there was a small tug on my sweater….

“MISS B!….Jared took my muffle muffled or lada bkakdll.laadiw ….. !!!

I’m sorry, what did he do?

HE TOOK MY muffle muffle small voice muffle muffle……!

Okay, where’s Jared?”

Teary eyed little girl points across the yard.

“Jared? Are you Jared?……”

Later on, in an elementary popcorn reading group, we read about Paul Revere and various other patriots who had to saddle up and do their duty….

“The CONtinent’s army…”

“The Continental Army”

“The Continental Army mustard”


“And he had to say goodbye to his SWEATheart….”

Then right in the middle of it all, there is Junior High. I adore junior high, but there are many brave souls who won’t venture inside that high energy environment. I have received quite humorous comments from this age group before, but on one particular day, I received a sobering question from a student who asked, “Is it true that life just gets worse when you are a grown up?” I paused on that one, coming as it did right out of the blue. The answer I chose, “Life is what you make it.”

Lastly, high school. These kiddos are always on their best game, they are sly, they are agile, they are techno savvy. They also try to set you up.

“Who ya voting for Miss?”

“Oh come on, you know I can’t tell you those things.”

“No, you can Miss, you just can’t tell us the reasons.”

(Note to self….is this election anywhere near reasonable????)

“Do you think Donald Trump is a racist? He’s a racist, Miss…..”

I handled this situation with my stern librarian English teacher stare, and let me tell you, that sure put them in their place.

From soft voices to loud ones. My little band has been busy wrapping up their CD release and playing shows in California and doing a few radio shows. The Rock Guy is hoping to get many of his songs recorded before he decides to hang up his guitar for awhile.  My favorite song on the CD is There’s Been a Change. Like many songs, there’s a story behind it. There might actually be a novel. Maybe someday I will write it, maybe I won’t. Life is like that, busy and full on, not that it gets worse when you grow up, but that you must shoulder all that responsibility that we are educating our kids to handle someday when their voices are strong, and they seek their path in the world to the beat of their own music.

I’ve felt this way in my past, a Maryland September day, I may not ever come back….


Hanging backstage with the Rock Guy at an Alice Cooper Concert:

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28 thoughts on “Voices: Small to Loud

    • Alice Cooper is such a nice guy (no pun intended) and a great musician. He is the only “famous” musician that I have ever met. The Rock Guy has met and spoke with several,and even worked as a roadie for Joe Perry of Aerosmith when he was doing The Joe Perry Project. It was a rare treat for me, and I really enjoyed it !

  1. this is an interesting and often funny essay. your description of each age group is right on. (i taught at the high school level for 20 years.) and i had no idea you were part of a rock group! i wonder if being in a rock band is comparable to being a substitute teacher!

    • Oh Michael, ha ha. I’m actually not in the rock group, I was just using that as a term of endearment as I help them out a lot with their promotions, flyers, cover art, and computer postings. A rock band does sound exciting, doesn’t it? From what I know, it is a bit of a grind, also quite expensive. They usually don’t make enough from their shows to pay for t-shirts, CDs, photos, travel, etc. I really wish that creative people of all types could get more funds to practice their art so that we could continue to have new songs, written works, paintings, etc. You were a teacher for 20 years, how wonderful! I am a “real” teacher who works as a substitute so that I can assist my 85 year old mom in maintaining her independent lifestyle. I help her out several hours a week. She continues to do well, so we are going to take this train as long as it will go. After that, I may go back to English class where I can torture kids to pull out the true meanings of all that literature. 😀

  2. Lana, what a wonderful portrait of the three school groups – from the frightened innocent approach to the world to the older wiser and canny teenagers! Loved your example and their vibrant love of life comes through, as does their concern for the future. I felt sad about the question does life get harder? From my son and his friends I realise they seem to worry so much about the future, not just for themselves but for the world around them. Very touching. Yeah, impressed you met Alice Cooper – great photo op!

  3. I see you’re helping your mom maintain her independence — me, too! Sometimes it’s tough, isn’t it? Of course, my mom has a couple of years on yours, and we all know old age isn’t for sissies!

    You’ve got to love these kids’ comments — they’re so fresh and real (not like when some grow up to dance around subjects or tell outright lies!). Being around these different age groups gives you LOTS of “fodder” for writing!

    • It surely does enrich my writing career, ha ha. Yes, caring for an elderly parent is tough. My weeks are long sometimes, but I am grateful that I am healthy and have the strength to do it. I’m glad to hear you help your mom too, it is also incredibly rewarding and it means so much to them. My mom loves living in her little apartment, and I hope she gets to for awhile.

  4. I used to substitute teach and had a hard time with those middle grades for sure, Lana. No thanks. Such a cute recap of the years and how you handle it. I love the tie in the finding our voices as we age. Great post.

  5. Lana or L.T. – First, thanks for your “like” on my blog entry “Addicted to Love.” Second, loved your depiction of the youngest children. It’s a group I never had the nerve to teach. Sixth grade was tough enough for me (as an adjunct). A young girl in my sixth grade class, on seeing me for the first time, asked, “Mister, are those your real teeth?” Many heartbreaking moments in that classroom.

    • Oh wow, what a question. I understand this well, most of the schools I teach in are in very low income areas of town. The kiddos have it tough at home, and it truly is heartbreaking. My real name is Lana, I write under the name, L.T. Garvin (a name I made by combining the two names of my grandmothers). You are quite welcome, and I thank you in return for visiting my blog.

  6. Lana, the stories about subbing all levels nearly get me to cry. Children of all ages, even ones who seem naughty or mean, just need to have someone listen to them!
    Aww, precious young ones, middle schoolers and upper classmates. All have something to teach US!
    I love “Welcome to my Nightmare” and “Only Women Bleed.” I would enjoy any meetings of rock stars, including your very talented “Guy!!” I liked the song very much! ❤

    • Thank you so much Robin. The Rock Guy is a really wonderful musician and just a really great person. I teach in several schools where children are living at or below the poverty level. These kids do have a lot to teach us, it is an experience to see the world through their eyes and to hope on a daily basis that our education system can pull them up.

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