by Casey Ewy, Manhattan-Ogden School District
It is no secret that music plays an important role in all our daily lives. Music evokes emotions, enhances memories, calms us down, and pumps us up. Nowhere is this more evident than the realm of sports. Music plays such a critical role in the fan experience that sometimes it is more entertaining than the game itself.
In college, my neighbors were baseball players. One day, one of them came over and asked to see my CD collection. (These were the days before Spotify.) They looked at the music for quite some time and explained they were faced with the most important decision of their baseball career…the perfect walk-up song. A walk-up song is what is played as a baseball player walks up to the plate, or when a new pitcher takes the mound. They are an easy way to identify who is up to bat and can often tell a lot about a player. Some songs are chosen for the beat, others for the lyrics. Either way, it helps them focus on the task at hand; in their case, hitting whatever comes their way.
Teachers, we are no different — we may not have to hit a 100 mile per hour fastball, but I would argue that it might be easier than what 8th graders can dish out. Why can’t we as educators have our own walk-up songs to get us ready to take on our day? So, our school did just that. Before school started, we sent out a survey to each staff member and asked for their personal walk-up song. People were confused, so we explained the concept and many soon submitted their song. We put them together in a playlist and shared it with the staff. The playlist is available for all staff to hear. At different meetings we will play a song and have everyone guess whose song it is. It has been so much fun to hear the songs of other people. Many will say they just like the beat, but others like the message. Either way it speaks to them!
Our team took it a step further and asked our students for their own personal walk-up song. Just like the adults, the kids had so many questions…Any song? School appropriate? Can I have multiple? A few had their songs ready to go instantly, but most had to think about it. We then put them in a (clean) playlist for our team to play in our classes, in the hall, or when we go outside for an activity. It is an indescribable feeling when you see the face of someone when their song is played. They get so excited, and you can hear them telling others that it is THEIR song. It gives us a talking point and we can ask each other why they chose the song they did. It gives us a window into each other, and we can see additional ways that we are alike or different.
Whether you hit fastballs or work in a middle school, the art of choosing a walk up song has been transformational. Just hearing your song puts a little more pep in your step and empowers you to hit that home run.
Dr. Casey Ewy is in her 26th year working with middle schoolers in Manhattan-Ogden Public Schools in Manhattan, Kansas. You can find her on Twitter @drewyams or on Instagram @caseyewy.