Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Spring Band Zing & String Fling!

Last night was the bi-annual elementary school band and orchestra concert.  It was, I kid you not, titled "The Spring Band Zing and String Fling!" - and that includes the exclamation point.

The music department had to include that exclamation point because this was no ordinary concert.  And I misled you just now when I said this was an elementary school band/orchestra event.  It was actually THE concert for ALL of our town's musical groups and because of it's vast size, it was held in the gymnasium of our local high school.

I do mean ALL the town's musical groups.  Never have I seen a longer program.  The night started with the High School Marching Band which was followed by the Grade 3 Orchestra, the All Star Elementary Band, the All Star Elementary Orchestra, the Grade 6 Band, the Grade 6 Orchestra, the Grade 7 Band, the Grade 7 Orchestra, the Grade 8 Band, the Grade 8 Orchestra, the Grade 8 Orchestra WITH the High School Sinfonietta, the Grade 8 Band WITH the High School Concert Band, the High School Orchestra, the High School Orchestra WITH the High School Sinfonietta, the High School Concert Band, the High School Symphony Strings, the High School Wind Ensemble, the Combined Grades 3-12 Orchestra and the High School Winds Symphony.

The musician in me was proud and pleased to see that our town has so many musical groups and enough musicians to fill them, but the exhausted parent in me was horrified to read through the program and realize that I had at least two hours of uncomfortable bleacher-seating and overheating to do.

And by the end of the night, the exhausted parent perspective won out.

To move things along, the musical directors had all the children assemble before the concert and they stayed in their places for the entire show.  This helped keep the transitions moving from one group to another, but it also meant that there were another 500 bodies in the over-heating gym.  

It got really hot and airless really quickly.

I brought my telephoto lens and got a few photos of the Elliot Musicians.

Josie was in the Third Grade Orchestra, sitting next to her good friend and partner in crime, Eva:

Georgia was in the All Star Elementary Band, sitting next to her good friends Mabel and Caroline.

There was much waving between the two siblings and their friends.  

And there was much warming up:

Josie's group played three songs:  Mary Had a Little Lamb, Snake Charmer and Dinah Won't You Blow Your Horn.  They did a good job (which is the polite way of saying that if you listened REALLY carefully, you could make out a tune).

Georgia's group played two songs:  Bugler's Dream and Holst's March.  The older children sounded slightly better.

Actually, that was true throughout the entire evening.  The third grade beginners were obviously just learning, the older elementary kids were improving, the middle school kids were beginning to weed out the less-than-stellar players and by high school, we had a solid collection of children who genuinely enjoyed playing their instruments and wanted to be there.  

The highlight for me was the performance of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings (even though it wasn't completely in tune).  It's a lovely piece and I enjoyed listening to Gordy lean over to inform me that "Ah, this is the theme song from Apocalypse Now."  The lowest point happened when the high school band performed "Stars and Stripes" complete with a three flute / two piccolo solo that brought back terrible sound memories of listening to my sister, Meredith, practice that piccolo part for hours on end in the hallway of my childhood home.  (According to Meredith:  she practiced in the hallway because the acoustics were better;  According the the rest of us, who still can sing the piccolo part to every Sousa March ever written even though we've never picked up a piccolo in our life:  she practiced in the hallway to torture us)

But the piccolo part in Stars and Stripes is not what tortured my youngest daughter.  Her sister never practices her instrument, so she isn't subjected to the daily loud screeches of wind instruments that I was, no Josie was tortured by the length of this musical evening and the intense heat of the gymnasium.  This is what the girls looked like at the end of the evening:

Here's a comparison, in case you've forgotten.  Josie at the beginning of the evening:

and Josie at the end, two hours later and 100 degrees hotter:

Her mother didn't look much better.


Guymons said...

I wanna see YOU

Guymons said...

Only 2 of my kids ever tried music. Melanee played the trumpet in elementary school. She sometimes practice IN THE CAR while we were driving (maybe that's where I got my hearing damage, haha). She also took keyboard/piano as a high school class for only one year. William took guitar lessons. All the school music programs were cut by time Bradley and Andrew went to school and they haven't been interested in taking anything on their own. Neither Scott nor I are musical, so we haven't minded the lack of music lessons to attend or pay for. They are bringing music back to the elem school now because they ended up not having high school marching bands a few years after taking away elem music. They also brought back jr high band, which made them have to stop offering art....stupid budget cuts, why cant there be BOTH!?!!!???

Elizabeth said...

I think Gordy is wrong! Barber's Adagio is in Full Metal Jacket, not Apocalypse Now.

And that program seems downright mean. I'm amazed that they were able to finish in two hours!


Martha said...

Diane - I agree with you about budget cuts!!! All the things that I think are important to a well-balanced education are always the first things cut when the budget needs to be trimmed. They do it here, too. Our town has a non-profit fund set up (Friends of Music) to pay for extras that are removed from the budget but that's something people donate to and it's not guaranteed. Before last night, I'd say that our school focuses more on art than on music, but obviously from the number of people participating in that performance, I'm wrong!

Martha said...

Girl! I will tell him! And you are right - it was mean. And way too long. And what on earth is a Sinfonietta. AND I was actually wrong - that wasn't all the musical groups in our town. Thankfully the Jazz Ensemble didn't play. Once they get started with all their impromptu solos.....

Meredith said...

It is in Platoon.

Elizabeth said...

Meredith's right! It IS Platoon. The one with a young Charlie Sheen.

Martha said...

Meredith - I will tell him! Gleefully. And for the record, I think we should let it be known that you could complain equally - if not more - about the screechy string playing that you had to listen to. Which, I sure, was no more pleasing to the ear than a sousa march.

Geline said...

Talented kids!

Angie said...

I can only imagine how much talent there was in that one room. I totally understand the hot exhausted parent thing though. I always dread crowded gymnasium events!

James Stewart said...

Photographs and stories like that helps in keep the marching band music alive. Every parent is worthy of praise for encouraging their kid.

marching band arrangers

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