Tuesday, March 25, 2014

THE RINGING OF THE "BLUE-NOTE"...
The valley where I live

As a very young mother I remember facing the daunting task of toilet training my oldest child. He was almost three. I had put this off for a long, long time because I had no idea what I was doing and was doubtful that I could succeed. Imagine my surprise when after a couple of frustrating weeks ... IT WAS DONE!


During the struggle, I was desperate to find some humor and this little poem bubbled to the surface. Its silly and anything but profound but it helped me lighten the moment. The interesting part was that I didn't exactly write it. It was like it was just there and I was the scribe.  Even in this insignificant moment there had been a spark of inspiration.





A POEM FOR JEREMY

My mother says today's the day,
She's going to throw the pins away,
The diaper pail and the diapers too,
In fact, my mother says she's through...
With diapering, she'll take a chance
And put me in a "training pant,"
And hope that I don't wet or soil it,
But do my duty on the toilet.

(note - there were no disposable diapers back then)


So what is the "blue-note?"  In artistic circles it is referred to as the moment when creativity begins to flow. We struggle, and quite often find our resources empty. Then suddenly, on a whim of its own, there will be a moment of clarity when all of the elements come together and pure inspiration flows. It is "magical"

Some have described its playing as if the drapes to a great dark hall have been drawn aside, and ideas like an explosion of sunlight, flood into the room.

When Fredrick Handel composed THE MESSIAH, He locked himself in a room for ten days to jot down the music playing in his head.

When Mozart wrote THE MAGIC FLUTE, he was not trudging his way through the rules of music theory to a logical conclusion. No, he heard the finished piece and wrote it down.

"Creativity is a partnership, a dance between ourselves and the muses."

I have heard the ringing of the blue-note many times. Most people think of it as it relates to art, literature and music, but it is not confined to any genre. I had a cookie decorating business for 12 years and it was there among the tips and bags and frosting. And more recently I have experienced its clarity while teaching math.

I have sixteen 5th grade students and we are studying 6th grade math. We are into algebra and geometry. They have known for a long time how to find the area of a rectangle but last week I taught them how to find the area of a parallelogram.

Base x Height = Area

It took a minute... they didn't get it.  Where does the height come from? We went through it several times and reviewed it for several days. Finally, although they didn't completely understand it, they could recite the formula and get the answer.  Then... about a week later I was suppose to teach them to find the area of a triangle. I drew a triangle... we measured the base, made a right angle and measured it and then we multiplied.

Base x Height = Area
                             2

All went well until I said ... now divide by two.

"WHAT?  Why do we divide by two... I don't get it."

I started to say. "It's OK if you don't understand the concept, just follow the process"  But then I stopped... I had a "flash"

I drew a parallelogram on the board.  Then I drew a line from one corner to the opposite corner and said... "What do we have?"


TWO TRIANGLES

You would have thought it was the 4th of July as lights were turning on all over the room. Again and again I heard...  "I get it, I get it. There's two triangles so we divide by two."

There was laughing, there were sighs of relief, there was excitement. The blue-note had rung in math.  It was a moment when real learning and clarity had occurred.

I love teaching. I love it when my students see with "new eyes" and the transfer of information and understanding is complete. IT IS MAGIC!


I treasure the times when I have heard the soft ringing of the illusive "blue-note"... I believe it is truly heaven sent.