I find it difficult to teach a class at 8am in the morning, particularly to college students. They aren't human that early - neither am I for that matter! I often find myself resorting more to silliness in an effort to keep us all awake and engaged. Such was the case one Tuesday morning in the fall semester . I got on the subject of Schubert's signature piano accompaniments representing rippling water and in an effort to be silly and to see if they were awake I kept pronouncing Schubert's name, "Schoobert" - "schoo" as in "school" + "bert" as in "Ernie and Bert." I suppose this ridiculous tactic had a stimiluating effect because it got several of them started on a most bizarre verbal improvisation that resulted in a story about Schoobert, the scuba-diving squirrel.
Confused yet? Let me attempt to elaborate...
I believe they ended up with "Schoobert" and "squirrel" and "scuba-diving" because of the wonderful alliteration. (Perhaps they should all consider being English majors as well!) The alliteration blossomed into a story about Schoobert. Having studied Schubert's "Unfinished Symphony" in music history at around the same time, one of the students decided that Schoobert had gone scuba diving to find inspiration for his symphony since he was so inspired by water (see, they were listening!) but had met his doom mid-dive which is why his symphony was never finished. Sigh...this really does sound crazy doesn't it? In spite of the craziness, Schoobert somehow became our mascot for our Accompanying class. He managed to come up in conversation entirely too often both inside and outside class.
Now the next part of the story is that one of my students is married to a taxidermist, Jesse Walker of Walker's Taxidermy. It turns out that they happened to have a squirrel laying around her husband's workshop after being found, already in a deceased state. Not wanting to see him go to waste the students thought it might be entertaining to take this squirrel and to turn him into our dear Schoobert. Surprisingly her husband was game to try something different just this once. After months of work and in honor of our final day of class today, I was presented with the finished product, mounted on a sand and shell covered board and complete with scuba diving gear. Needless to say, I am speechless! Without further ado, here is "Schoobert, the scuba diving squirrel." By far the most unique and unusual gift I have ever (and probably will ever) receive.
|Me on the left with my two creative-minded students and Schoobert,|
the scuba diving squirrel.
Lesson to learn from this - next time you teach an 8am class, be careful what tactics you use to keep folks awake!
And note to potential employers of mine - I really do teach in addition to being completely zany at times. Honestly!