Tag Archives: 141 Reasons

Songs in the Key of Life

(title taken from the title of Stevie Wonder‘s masterwork album, released in 1976)

There’s a new maturity in the Rock Bands, and I’m not the only one to have noticed. This year, we are performing more than we have in ages, and the pressure of nonstop shows seems to be helping us trust each other to work to get our parts right, listen closely and work together in rehearsal, and use the adrenaline that comes with performing to bring out our best. Preparing for this most recent concert was especially challenging as a number of group members were also involved in the winter play and so had to miss two weeks of rehearsals shortly before our own performance. But that circumstance has given me several moments I’ll remember through the end of my career and beyond.

Charlotte, on her first rehearsal of the Beatles song “Hold Me Tight” less than two weeks before the performance, relaxing into the song and dancing along. Mailande, a few days later joining that same group, leaning in to the bridge and focusing on getting every single note precisely in tune. Ellie, finding out she was not only playing piano on “You Give Love a Bad Name” but also had a solo, quietly digging in, sight-reading what she could, learning the flow of the song when she got to the parts she would have to practice, calling me over as needed to talk her through the part so she could learn it for our next rehearsal. And Kate, again with “Hold Me Tight,” taking on possibly the hardest bass part anyone has attempted in the 16 years I’ve been teaching the group, insisting not on perfection every single time but perfection at least once before the performance, smiling on her way out of rehearsal one night as I said, “Awesome job, Kate. It sounds gorgeous.” And these are just four examples. Every single person in the groups had at least one moment that made me think, “I am so lucky to work with these kids.”

During the performance, with all four groups, there was no hesitation in taking the stage, no last minute nervous questions before we got set. They sailed through the songs with confidence, and left the stage not with the half-stunned feeling of “Hey, we did it!” of earlier performances but rather with a sense of quiet accomplishment. The audience noticed, too. Along with the usual warm thanks and congratulations, one of the parents came up to me and observed, “They’re really coming together.”

Music, and the arts in general, bring so much to kids’ lives. Yet music is disappearing from public schools, forced out by the focus on testing, on meeting rigorous standards, on (if you’re a teacher) keeping your job and on (if you have any job in K-12 education) keeping your school open in the first place. This makes it all the more mystifying when a famous musician lends his name to the corporatist reform movement. In his piece “John Legend and the Well-Meaning Corporatists,” José Vilson writes, “Sadly, John’s legend in education will show a man who supports kids using pencils to bubble in scan-ready sheets rather than notes for the keys to their own lives.” (Vilson)

“Notes for the keys to their own lives.” That’s exactly what I want for all my students. It’s what all good teachers want for all their students. So, while I am appreciative of my good fortune in being able to teach music in my own special world, I feel I owe it to the larger world of education to advocate for the arts. The benefits of the arts should be clear. Even research – which would technically be included in the mass of data with which so many corporatist reformers are in love – shows those benefits. These kids are developing and using their voices. So must I. So must we all.

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#52-47: The Night Before Graduation, the Health Center, Weaving, Peer Tutors, Private Lessons.

#52: The Night Before Graduation.

#51: The Health Center.

#50: Weaving.

#49: Peer Tutors.

#48: Private Lessons.

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#57-53: The Indoor Arena, the International Clocks, Baking in Faculty Apartments, Senior Sale, Ceramics.

#57: The Indoor Arena.

Outdoor trails are great in the summer…and everyone loves the first time they get to ride in the outdoor paddocks in the Spring…but come winter there is nothing at the barn that is more appreciated than the indoor arena (well, ok maybe the horses are more appreciated). If you have the added bonus of a heated viewing lounge it’s even better!

#56: The International Clocks.

Wondering what time it is in China? Just stop by our international clocks and you’ll know in a second!


#55: Baking in Faculty Apartments.

I can remember baking numerous cookies in Miriam’s and Cathy’s apartments when I was a student. Now, I welcome the girls into my apartment all the time. Brownies, cookies, nachos and cakes…you name it we’ve probably made it! It’s  nice to be able to whip up something yummy on a rainy afternoon!

#54: Senior Sale.

A yearly tradition where the seniors skim the excess from their wardrobes before they head off for college. It’s always chock full of great finds for your wardrobe or dorm room.

#53: Ceramics.

Ceramics was hands down one of the most popular art electives when I was a student and it still is. With four wheels and a kiln on campus our students are able to learn the art of pottery from production through decoration!

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#62-58: StuCo, the Swing, Senior Haunted House, Dancers/Riders/Athletes, Tennis Courts.

#62: StuCo.

From Spearth Day to the dress code StuCo is involved in all aspects of life here at SBS. These elected student leaders are an important part of the community of SBS and the provide the student body with a voice in many of the decisions that have the greatest impact on the student body.

#61: The Swing. Check out the previous post to see exactly why it’s so important to SBS.

#60: Senior Haunted House.

Always thrilling, spine-tingling and a little bit funny, the annual senior haunted house gives the senior class the chance to scare the underclassmen and faculty with intricate plots and just a bit of gore. Accompanied by the annual Halloween bonfire and costume contest, the Senior Haunted House is always a favorite with students and faculty alike.

#59: Dancers/Riders/Athletes.

The words dancer, rider, or athlete are just a few of the ways that our students define themselves. Every Stoneleigh-Burnham girl is complex and multi-talented…and they are what defines the culture of the school.

#58: Tennis Courts.

Whether you’re looking for a way to pass the time…or you’re an accomplished competitor, having tennis courts on campus is a plus. They sit atop a sunny hillside and provide an excellent way to spend an afternoon.

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Reasons #67-63 in photos.

#67: The Capen Room.


#66: Social Action Day/February Thaw.

#65: Senior Couch.


#64: Spearth Day Talent Show.

#63: The Oval.


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#72-68: Rock Band, Afternoon Snacks, Advisors, PB, Faculty Kids.

#72: Rock Band.

During each performance the talented members of rock band grace us with their musical capabilities. The songs they choose are usually popular and well known and they really get into it! Rock band always gets the audience clapping and singing along!

#71: Afternoon Snacks.

Every day at the end of the academic day the dining hall opens for a few minutes and provides our students with a quick snack before they head off to sports. It’s a great way to prevent that afternoon slump and give you the extra burst of energy you need to get through practice.

#70: Advisors.

Your advisor is your first line of defense here at SBS. They stay on top of your grades, check in with you when you’re upset, bring you coffee from Dunkin before exams or drive you to get ice cream on a hot day. They are just one of the many people on the SBS campus you can go to for anything. They are always there to lend a helping hand or support you when things get tough.

#69: PB.

PB has been a part of the SBS community for a long time. Whether he coached you in softball, taught you how to write or you met with him while he was the Head of School, chances are if you attended (or currently attend) SBS you know who he is. His dedication to the community has been steadfast and continues even now (during his retirement) as he continues to coach debaters to help them get to the international competition and beyond.

#68: Faculty Kids.

No matter what age group you like you are sure to find a child on the SBS campus that you connect with. From infants to toddlers the faculty children help make SBS feel like home.

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#77-73: Dorm Rooms, Farewell to Seniors, the Red Room, Multicultural Club, Sweater Girl.

#77: Dorm Rooms.

Dorm rooms and day rooms are unique to each girl. Decorated with photos of family and friends, posters of favorite bands and movies and personalized with bedding and all the little extras. It’s nice to have your own little space…even when you’re away from home!

#76: Farewell to Seniors.

A yearly tradition in which the faculty roast the seniors and the legacy they will leave behind. Always a hoot, it’s a crowd pleaser with students and faculty alike!

#75: The Red Room.

There isn’t a single SBS alumna who hasn’t spent at least one morning or afternoon relaxing in the red room while waiting for the dining hall to open. It’s also often the location of the ever popular Saturday Night Movie as well as many other events including luau’s, midnight madness and 100 nights!

#74: Multicultural Club.

Whether they are planning presentations for housemeeting or cooking for the international luncheon, the multicultural club is one of our most active clubs on campus and they definitely provide us with the most yummy treats!

#73: Sweater Girl.

The sweater girl represents everything that a Stoneleigh-Burnham girl should be. Compassionate, intelligent and involved she is announced each year at the end of year awards ceremony. During her senior year she will be a role model for younger students and her peers, reminding us of all the qualities that make a Stoneleigh-Burnham girl a Stoneleigh-Burnham girl.


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