Friday, May 27, 2011

Week 32: The First Band Concert

“They are late.” This though echoed in my head as I stood on stage waiting for my middle school students to show up for the our first performance as a middle school band. One of the main parts of my job this year was to start a seventh and eighth grade band. We had a demonstration concert in February but this performance on the Spring Choral concert was our first major concert performance.

I decided to combine the two bands into one to allow for a stronger overall performance but because of circumstances the only time the seventh and eighth grade bands had to work as a group was from 6:30-7:15 before the concert which was set to start at 7:30. So when I checked my watch and saw that is was 6:50 and I didn’t have the majority of my students on stage ready to rehearse I started to feel a sense of panic.

Around 6:55 it seemed that I was able to began. We warmed up with both grades together and performed our piece. It went reasonably well but there was a couple things I wanted to fix. I wanted the beginning to be more solid and for the band to play the ending perfectly together.

Every time I started my students there was at least one student who was not paying attention who missed an entrance or didn’t quite play with the whole ensemble. I doggedly rehearsed my group, calling students out for not paying as close attention as I felt like they should. After four or five unsuccessful tries to get my students to play in unison as I thought they could I looked at my watch as noticed it was 7:10.

And then I gave up.

As a band director I've been taught to be uncompromising, to pursue a level of performance until it was right, but somehow at that moment it felt silly. What did my students really need from my at that moment to feel successful that evening? To play a couple notes perfectly or something more. So I put down my baton and talked to my students.
We’re done playing. We’ll be fine.  You sound great, and you know your music.
I just want us to think about a couple things. What I’m about to say, I’m saying not to make your nervous but to help you understand the importance of what we do tonight.

We have a lot of traditions at this school but rarely do students get to start traditions in our school.  Tonight you are starting a tradition as performing as the first concert band in our school’s history.  That's important and you should feel honored to have this opportunity.

Making the choice to do band this year, trying something new with a new teachers that you don’t know takes a lot of courage and I admire your willingness to take a chance with band this year and me as your teacher.

I am already proud of you and proud to have worked with you and the way we perform tonight doesn’t change any of that. You’ve already earned my respect as musicians and as young adults. Tonight’s performance is to share what we do with our community and most of all have fun.

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