So my students all know that I spent my twenties as a singer/songwriter, and when they have heard my songs they ask why I’m not famous. This generally makes me laugh, I truly love their optimism, that talent equals success. However, today they got me to break out of my little folk singer mold and do something a little different, and in the end it was super fun.
My kids are mostly black students and they are really into new hip hop and rap music. While I have tried to stay up to date on this music, in a general fashion, I am truly out of touch with it. My kids however take their free time, what little they get, to practice rapping. I have no problem with this, because as their English teacher they are really just practice modern poetry. They have for several weeks been trying to get me to rap with them.
I would have remained immune from this, but I had to go and open my mouth to help them out. That constant teacher that lives in my head, heard a rhyme from a student that was good, but was cliché. I encouraged him to try to find new ways to saw old things, and that this is the way to get recognized and be good at what you do. They have taken this to heart and the rhymes are getting better, but since that day they have been trying to get me to rap with them. I sing folk music, so the idea of rapping with kids who don’t even remember the rappers I love terrifies me.
Then today while we were having a free day, and the teachers and students were bouncing from class to class something clicked. I think it might have been that my coworker from Africa, who can’t rap at all, was in it with the kids spitting terrible rhymes and the kids didn’t judge because he tried. So I jumped in and it was perfect. It wasn’t a more than a few lines, but it was perfectly timed and witty. I was really proud of myself for jumping outside my comfort zone, plus the kids loved it.
I love listening to them find their voices in their rapping, just as much as I love reading their essays and stories as they try to find a voice for that. For them the music is more honest, and for a long time it was for me as well. So today was great! I broke outside myself and did something fun.
So embrace our crazy, let go of your fears, and bust a few rhymes. You might find a new part of ourself that you didn’t know was there.