Try A Drawl

My student’s Mom’s Facebook post made my day:

Seriously love Clementine’s piano teacher, who taught most of today’s lesson with an outrageous southern accent because otherwise Miss C was not inclined to listen. — with Diane Hidy.

I’m a morning person. I like to get up and get my work done. I also love to teach kids. This means that I have to teach during after school hours. The hours between 4 and 6 pm are not my finest. I doubt that most people think they are at their best during these hours. If you are, please accept my congratulations. If you’re like me, consider perking up a lesson with an accent.

Not the musical kind. The kind where you suddenly start speaking with a crazy southern drawl, or a wild Austro-Hungarian flavored accent, or maybe something vaguely Russian or Indian, or anything that might come into your head at the moment. I happen to naturally have a rather uninteresting Californian accent. A few too many “likes” and “you knows” but otherwise unremarkable. If you are lucky enough to already have an interesting accent in English, you could try sounding like….me? A California girl lesson?

I was losing Clementine last Thursday when I started talking like Dolly Parton. (She has a new book – I heard her talking about it on NPR.) It always works. A funny way of speaking – even something that’s only different from your usual voice – can save an otherwise disastrous late afternoon lesson. You can do it for an entire lesson or just for a few minutes. It breaks up the monotony and helps students refocus; they have perk up their listening skills to adjust to the difference in your voice. It usually ends up with a lot of laughter and that’s always good on a sleepy afternoon.

Think about it the next time you’re falling asleep at 5:45 pm on a sleepy winter afternoon. It’s worth a try.