I was invited to speak for Career Days, for the Tanque Verde School District, something I was happy to do to give back to the community. When I found out I was assigned the Kindergarten classes I chuckled and said, “Now this will be a fun challenge. How am I going to make this interesting and relevant to 5 year olds who take everything literally?!” So, I rang my little dinner bell and started with this poem:
“A bell’s not a bell til’ you ring it, a song’s not a song til’ you sing it
Love’s not put on this earth to stay, love’s not love til’ you give it away.”
When I shared that poem and gave a little girl a heart gift bag, as I said, ”Love’s not love til’ you give it away”, she looked in the bag and said forlornly, “But it’s empty!” I explained, “You can’t see love but you can hear it in a song or feel it in a hug. You can’t always see the gifts we give and receive”
I shared that we have all been given gifts and talents to share and when you get older you can have a career that uses those gifts and talents.
“Why do you sing?”, a little boy asked me. I smiled and said, ”I sing because it makes me happy to share music about the west, to share music that matters…” Then I shared, “My career as a western singer started with ‘I Sing to Ride’, bartering for horseback riding, but it’s become so much more…” I explained bartering like this: “If you wash my windows and my dad’s a plumber, he’ll fix your clogged up sink because you washed my windows”
One little boy furrowed his brow and said, “You do something for each other, you make a deal.” Exactly! He got it.
They loved howling on the song, “Cowboy’s Sweetheart”, singing on the chorus of “Ghost Riders” and doing the hand motions on “Home on the Range”.
I told them that I still have to be disciplined and practice too, just like them, when their mom makes them practice. I held up a timer and a tootsie roll pop. I explained, “I work for treats and it’s usually not candy.” Then I held up my picture books and said, “Sometimes my treat is reading a book when I’m done practicing”. I shared that when they practice and get good at things they like to do, people will pay them for those things, if those things become their careers when they grow up!
When I actually sang my song, “I Sing to Ride” and sang the part, “I may not know your name, I don’t know where you’ve been, but by the time we’re through, we’ll share a lot it’s true, we’ll want to do this again…”, I sang it right to a little girl in the front row and then to the whole class. They “got it”—- the entire class really connected with that song.
One class was real curious about my tuner so I showed them how it worked and said: “It’s one of my tools”. Then a boy asked me, ”Where’s your hammer?” I told him, “I have different kinds of tools than a hammer but I do use a wire cutter to cut my strings on top, so no one gets jabbed!”
We finished with “Long Legged Cowboy” to get them up and moving.
As I was walking to my car I heard from the playground: “Goodbye cowgirl singer!” Goodbye sweet children! It felt good to give back…