Kim and I rolled out for the 6th grade spring concert at the kids’ middle school tonight. We took Isaac and Annabelle with us. Annabelle likes the music; Isaac likes the people! As we were walking into the school a group of students were getting off a bus, returning from a sporting event. Isaac got a little, “Hey Isaac!” from the girls. He didn’t hate that…
We did the math, and this was the 6th such Spring Concert that we’ve attended. Band, Chorus, Orchestra…we’ve made the rounds. And since Charlie is in the pipeline, we’ll be there for years to come. Over the past 6 years we’ve heard more than our share of middle school violins and cellos and saxophones, of the obligatory “Blues Breakdown” solos, and the choir trying their best to roll with some song in German or an African dialect. We smile at the boys with ties dangling down by their knees, the girls wobbling up the risers in their initial foray into the world of high heels.
But something marvelous, something borderline miraculous happens in our schools somewhere between 6th grade and graduation. There has to be some element of natural talent, some innate ability to sing, to carry a tune, to hit a note. Maybe that’s present in every school district, every little burg or ville in the world.
When I say that our program (our–as though I have something to do with it!) is exemplary, I am not exaggerating. I told you that at their latest adjudication event (in Toronto) they came home with EVERY first place award presented. Every band, every ensemble, every choir. Men, women, co-ed. Every. As in EVERY.
Best choir, orchestra, band, jazz band, men’s chorus, women’s chorus, and Master singers all got top spot. 6 people won best solo (voice or instrument). Best rhythm section (jazz band). Every award that they gave Gold for went to State High, except for the Spirit Award!
So what takes our kids from “Aww, that was cute” to “Holy cow. Did your hair stand up on your arms when they sang that piece?” How do they make such a big jump from 6th grade to 12th grade?
I think it’s a cocktail of hard work on the kids’ part, encouragement on the part of the parents, and a top-notch group of music educators who poke and prod and beg and cajole and demand and praise and pound and pull the best effort out of our kids. They teach them to love music, massage and shape the raw materials, polishing the gem until it shines like a star.
So from a dad who regularly gets to see the finished product as well as the behind-the-scenes, thank you, dear music educators. You have spoken into and shaped the lives of countless kids. I know that I speak for the parents when I say thank you.