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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"The Magic Phone Table" by Paula Bird

Once upon a time there was a young child. The child could have been a boy or a girl. The child could have been very young, a youth, or somewhere in between.  The child expressed interest in music lessons, and because the child was loved, mom or dad took the child to a music teacher.
“I can help your child learn to play music,” the teacher said. “This is a wonderful gift you are giving to your child, because it will be something that your child will enjoy for many, many years, and because music is a gift that your child will then be able to give back to you and also to other people.”
Mom and dad and child were very excited about lessons. At first, everyone clapped at the slightest sound the child made on the instrument, even if the sound was not as refined as it could be. Everyone smiled a lot. The child was excited to learn and to play. The parents were interested in how well the child learned how to play, and the parents would watch the lessons carefully so that they could practice with the child at home and have as good a time in home practices as the teacher had during lessons.
Then one day, a phone appeared during the lesson.  The parent was sorry that the phone tried to play its music at the same time as the child, and the parent hastily put the phone away out of sight. Then another parent “had” to take or make a call, so the phone stayed on during the lesson, and the parent quickly ran out of the studio to answer or make the call. There were other parents who did not enter the studio at all, but who stayed outside in the car to make phone calls. Another parent sat in the next room working on phone calendar appointments rather than attending the lesson.
Soon, even more parents seemed to have phones out and about during lessons and group classes. The phones did not make any noise, but they vibrated and sparkled with fun apps to play, emails to read, text messages to answer, and Facebook posts to laugh about.
The teacher began to worry. The teacher watched as one child would turn around during group class to see if mom and dad were watching how well she played, only to find that mom and dad were not watching. Both parents were so busy looking at their phones that they never saw the child turn around to look at them.
Then the teacher began to observe during lessons whether the parent was watching the lesson and understood what the teacher was helping the child to learn, except the teacher found that the parent was not paying attention to the lesson. The parent was instead looking at the phone’s screen and whatever was more interesting there.
Lesson after lesson, the teacher noticed that the phones demanded more and more of the parents’ attention; the little children were not as powerful as the phone and could not gather their parents’ attention away from the phone. So the teacher looked around for an idea that would lessen the phones’ magic power.
The teacher found a special table. The table was special because it had magic power of its own, and this magic power was greater than the magic power of the phones. Parents could not pass by the table and enter the studio room with their phones. This phone table magically required parents to leave their phones on the little table until it was time to leave the studio. The table also magically eliminated any special powers the phones had to demand the parents’ attention. The parents no longer felt a need to pick up or look at their phones as long as the phones were on the magic table.
Everyone was happy again. The parents were excited to watch how well the child learned to play music. The child enjoyed playing music for the parents, who seemed to clap with enjoyment and enthusiasm for everything the child played. The parents began to enjoy lessons and group classes because they were paying attention to how the teacher instructed the child. The parents had their hands free to take notes about the lessons and group classes. The parents now understood once again how to help the child at home in between the lessons.
Magic Phone Table and free parent notebooks
And they all lived happily ever after.  --- THE END


  1. Hmmm, I wonder how the magic table would fit in during rehearsals and concerts.......

  2. It would be right at the entrance doors, and perhaps there would need to be several. I've already had a school principal ask permission to pass out the story to the teachers in the school, because evidently it is a problem with that school's teachers. Imagine! The teachers are role modeling bad phone etiquette!