The first performance that I attended on this endeavor was an off-chance intent to support my students.
To Preface, my other gig aside from composing and occasionally performing, is as a private music instructor. I teach many students in the St. Lewis Park school district.
It just so happened that one of my students canceled their lesson on the Tuesday evening of (one of) the end-of-the-year band concerts- as it happens to be a large school district. When I found out that they were soloing on their first Jazz concert, one of my other trombone students let me know that they were also performing- that day lol-and I had the time, I had to be there!
Normally I can’t make evening weekday concerts as I teach until 8 or 9 pm most evenings so this was a bonus.
While I knew that some of my students would undoubtedly be performing, I had no Idea that a grand total of 6 were playing. Those stinkers never told me when their performance was, hahaha!
As this was the first band concert I’d been able to attend, I had no idea what to expect. First of all., the auditorium was HUGE!!!! It made the auditorium that I attended convocation in as an undergrad feel small in comparison. I was amazed at just how nice it was, and how packed with supportive parents, family, and staff it was. A few teachers that teach at Maestoso were there as well to support their students. It was a heartwarming site, as there was not an empty seat in the room.
First, the Jazz Band performed and I learned of the Donut Bribery ( ok- it’s the volunteering of students to bring in Donuts every morning rehearsal) that fuels this group.
The piece that stood out was Moondance by Van Morrison. Several students took solos which, especially for 6-8th graders, is an extremely brave thing to do. I know several adults who refuse to even try, so Kudos to those kids. Also, not to brag- ok, to brag- my student played the loudest most confident sounding solo in that piece. I was one proud teacher that evening!
Then I got to hear the 6th 7th and 8th grade bands perform.
My favorite piece by the 7th grade group was Blinding Lights by The Weekend, because it had the most energy and you could see that the students seemed to enjoy performing it.
Despite the usual intonation issues that usually plague this age group as they are learning how to control their instruments and listen- a skill that takes time to build- you could really tell that they were listening and making an honest effort. They were experiencing Teamwork through the lens of a musical ensemble, and having taught several of students at one time or another, it was a treat to witness their growth.
It was also enjoyable witnessing the different groups of students announce the pieces. I’m glad to see that this district allows this opportunity for students, as it gives a chance to work on stage fright and/or shine in a different way. One duo was particularily hilarious trading off every other sentence and making back and forth jokes.
When the 8th grade group performed, the piece that stood out the most was a piece called Corinthium by Michael Sweeny. This was a full circle piece because I remember working with my first official trombone student on it prior to the pandemic, 3 years ago. The piece was deemed too difficult for the group and dropped ( Although I will tell you the then 5th grader was crushing it for her ability at the time). I then got to help her on it during the pandemic, but it was again dropped by the director. Once again, this piece made an appearance in November during this student’s lesson and I never heard anything about it again after that. What a HUGE surprise to get to hear this piece by this group that included my student performed it was, and they sounded GREAT!
All in all, I really enjoyed listening to what my students have been working toward and getting to see their surprised faces when Miss Sam made an appearance at their Band Concert. I would do it again in a heartbeat!