Written by Emily Grossman
Published: November 7, 2013 at 5:41 AM [UTC]
With the addition of my violin students, the singers, and the recorder players, the stage barely had any room left to breathe, much less move. But move we did! If you had to pick who had the most fun, the teachers and professionals, the amateurs, the parents beating their drums, the kids on the stage, or the audience, I'd have to say it had to have been the conductor: Tammy absolutely beamed. But you'd have a hard time finding someone who needed a collaboration like this more than me. A good moment in music can move me out of the darkest despair like nothing else, and dark days do abound come wintertime in Alaska.
Over a thousand people attended the concert in Soldotna alone, and we met again the next day in Homer for a repeat performance involving the kids of Homer and Ninilchik public schools. After the pre-concert rehearsal, I pulled up a chair and joined a group of colleagues at the back of the stage who were already in the thick of an avid discussion. I always feel a bit honored when I get to hang out with my local music friends. After all, they are some of the brightest and most gifted, caring, and prominent people in the community: they are the public school teachers. Although I have my own degree in elementary education, it takes a very special kind of person to devote his or her life to public education, and I've always seen myself as more geared toward a one-one-one, self-employed type of career; my hat's off to those who have given their lives to music education in the public school.
As I settled in with my knitting, I noticed right away that the group's conversation already included me. Over and over, each of the musicians agreed that our town is long overdue for a public school string program. "How many students do you have in your studio, anyway?" they wanted to know. "Oh, I don't know, with the piano students mixed in, it's tough to say, but I always have a waiting list, and I'm turning down potential string players all the time." Just the previous day, I met new people in the audience who wanted to enroll in lessons. It really is silly that we haven't gotten a string program off the ground yet; it's quite obvious that the demand is already there. I don't exactly have a huge semester turnover, but I can almost guarantee that most of my students who quit playing the violin do so because they have no regular, easily accessible outlet for their pursuit. Just think of what it would be like to be able to play in a string orchestra with classmates during lunch break or recess? Just think of where this could lead? Without a string teacher, we have no string students, and without students, we have no string players to feed our community orchestra, and without string players in the community orchestra, we have our work cut out for us when trying to tackle works like Shostakovich. Who knows what our orchestra could become in ten or fifteen years with a proper string program in place? And who knows whose lives could be made better for it? The first step has already been taken, and that's to get people excited about making music together. The more kids know just how great classical music can be, the more likely they will want to beg their parents to join the orchestra.
Empower. Enlighten. Enrich... Implement a public school string program, and do this and more for your community! I'm already pushing for the next step! Now, to figure out exactly what that next step is...
Also, it's important to have a plan for the various levels of players you'll wind up with: beginners, intermediate, etc. A team of teachers who can work together is the ideal!
Just 2 cents from me!
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