Thank God it's Friday

23rd October 1998 at 01:00
Monday It is the first lesson for the brand-new beginners' recorder group of five and six-year-olds. We discuss holding the recorder correctly - "Left hand at the top. No, this is your left hand" - and how to get a nice, clear note. "Try blowing in to the other end. Yes, that sharp squeak is very painful on our ears, isn't it."

The group is soon well away on practising the first three notes. The note names spell the word "bag", which for some reason they find hilarious. Promise them that when we have practised BAG, BAG, BAG a great deal, they can start on a proper tune.

Tuesday I hover between preparing handouts for next week's recorder lessons (large clear notes with BAG, BAG, BAG in above the music), completing a half-written assignment for an adult literacy tutor course, or planning session outlines for a potential leisure course on sharing books with children. (It is never too early to enjoy books with a baby.) I settle for a bar of chocolate and watching Braveheart on video. (It is never too late to catch up on old videos the rest of world saw three years ago.) Wednesday This is the first day of a teaching placement to complete my adult literacy tutor training. The group is friendly, but the student I have been placed with doesn't turn up. We spend an hour listening to a session on spelling rules. After this, it starts to blur and I cannot remember any of it. Could we just go over that bit about "magic E" again, please?

Thursday Disaster on the home front - the new childminder changes her mind about looking after my children while I teach. I dismiss the option of them joining in the lessons; they would end up with recorders wrapped round their necks and I can only stand so many renditions of "Three Blind Mice" played entirely on one note by my five-year-old.

My two-year-old thinks that the recorder is a percussion instrument; banging two together makes an excellent noise. I spend the day tearing round town and phoning 25 childminders before finally closing a deal with a co-operative day nursery. Sighs of relief.

Friday It's five to four and it's the second recorder group. With the weekend in sight, they are bouncy and excited, and there is much talk of parties and showings of latest wobbly teeth. After a term's lessons they are old hands, and cope well with the scale of G Major and a group effort at "Hot Cross Buns". "Let's see if we can all finish at the same time, shall we?" At the end of the lesson I am hot, but not cross; we have all worked hard. I send them away with injunctions to practise, and promise them to teach them a new note next week. Meanwhile, my adult literacy assignment is still awaiting transformation from rough notes to a masterpiece of prose, and sharing books with children, while brilliant in theory, is, in practice, still intangible.

I can see my weekend of leisure disintegrating in a tangle of paperwork - BAD, BAD, BAD.

Belinda Copson is a part-time tutor in Hertfordshire

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