I wanted to share an experience at school that taught me to never make assumptions based on ethnic backgrounds and that music bridges cultures.
One of my observant Muslim students told me at the beginning of the year, that because of his religion, he could not play instruments. Then, he told me he could not sing any songs, unless they were prayers to his god. At this point, there are only two options: talk to your friends and get in trouble or read a book. As his teacher, I sent him to his classroom to get a silent reading book, so that I could teach my class.
I decided to call home and see what was up. Apparently, this child walks around home singing all the time, which bothers his parents. He is a serious and respectful child, so when his mom told him to save his singing for prayers, he thought that meant at school too!
I called his mom to talk to her, and she said, of course he can sing fun songs at school!
Fast forward two months. My student comes up to me in the hall after building snow forts at recess and tells me how much fun he and all his friends had singing “Jingle Bells” and “Winter Wonderland” while building their forts.
My lesson: Never make assumptions based on anyone’s ethnic background!