Last week we trundled the thirty or so miles to catch the All-County's Elementary Honor Band and Strings concert. Because this was Kitty's first night out in over two months,and she had her walker and her wound-vac on, we decided to play it safe and show up a half hour early -- only to find the place already packed.
There are twelve elementary school in our county, so there were a lot of kids there. Eighty-five in the band and eighty-four in the strings section. Granddaughter Erin was one of the six studens from her school selected to perform in the band. Thus, come hell or high water, we were primed to enjoy the concernt. (We were just as primed, years ago, when our girls were doing school concerts and he had to sit through some atrocious thing called A Flat, B Flat Rock that their music director had written and pushed into every blessed performance.)
No A Flat, B Flat Rock this time out. The strings started the concert and played five pretty varied pieces, beginning with what felt like standard school-concert-show-the-parents-that-the kids-might-know-what-they're-doing fare. Well, the kids knew what they were doing. They closed out with two numbers you don't usually hear on strings: Mama Don't 'Low and I Got Rhythm.
Picture this on strings:
Then, after a long wait while chairs were rearranged, music stands properly paced, and drums and percussion instruments set up, the band came on. Erin strode on stage confidently (as usual) and I thought of a line in an old folk song that she's "going to walk in proud, proud shoes all over Tennessee." (In my mind, I tried to substitute "Southern Maryland" for "Tennesee," but it just didn't scan. Erin was given a chair at the front of the stage -- something that she thought (with eleven-year-old lack of humility) was apt.
The band rocked it, closing with a piece that (I can only assume) was the most anti-mid-February song the music director could think of:
It was a good evening, but as I looked at the sea of young faces I could not help but notice that there were fewer minority faces in both groups. Earlier this school year, at Mark's middle school concert, the number of children taking band, orchestra, or strings was far less then the previous year. A clear indication of how the economy is affecting our area. Because we live in an area that is highly impacted by the military, I am afraid that the number of kids enrolled in arts programs will dip even farther if sequestration hits.
As if to counter this, one of the elementary school principals took a few minutes to drone on about all the benefits music education has for students, citing numerous educational studies. Nobody cared; people came to hear their kids, not to hear a monotoned, footnoted screed. The principal never mentioned the most important thing that the music program had for the kids: it's fun. Once that speech was over, the kids got to play again, happily tapping their feet to the music.
In previous posts about school concerts, I mentioned the ingenuity some people have in naming their children. This year is no exception; here are the names, inclulding spelling variations:
Aaliyah, Abbey, Abby, Abigail, Abrielle, Ainsley, Akhil, Alexandra, Alison, Allison, Andrew (four of them), Anela, Anna Beth, Arika, Audrey, Avery, Bailey, Ben, Benjamin, Brandon (two), Brenna, Brett, Bryan, Camille, Campbell, Carly, Carnethia, Casey, Charity, Charlie, Chloe, Christopher, Cierra, Claire, Claudia, Corianne, Cynthia, Debra, Diamond, Dianelys, Dillon, Dorian, Dylan, Elena, Elizabeth (two), Ellenrae, Emma (two), Erek, Erika, Erin, Evan (two), Grace (two), Grady, Haley, Hailey, Hannah (two), Issac (sic), Jack (two), Jacob, Jaclyn, Jake, Jason, Jayla, Jazmine, Jennifer, Jessica (two), Joel, John, Jolees, Jonathan, Joshua (two), Josie, Julia, Kaia, Kaela, Kaitlin, Kaitlyn (two), Kaitlynn, Kaleigh, Karley, Kate, Katie, Kellan, Kensley, Kevin, Kierra, Kira, Kristiana, Kylie, Lacie, Lauren (three), Lesley, Lucienne, Madeline (three), Madison (two), Mark, Mary Beth, Mason, McKenzie, Megan (two), Melanie, Michael, Michela, Morgan, Nadia, Natalie (three), Nathan, Nathaniel, Noah, Nyah, Owen, Patrick, Peyton, Rachel (three), Raleigh, Reka, Ricky, Rosemary, Ryan (three), Sallie, Sammie, Sarah, Sean (two), Shannon (two), Sierra, Skylar (two), Sophie, Suzanne, Sydney (two), Tatum, Taylor (two), Trevor, Will, William (two), Xaiver, Yavor, and Zhane.
Bless them all and may they continue to hone their talents.