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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

The Future of Live Local Music

Ebird Strings Throwing it Down!
Caught some amazing live, local music in my home town this week.  I went to see the "EBird and Friends Holiday Spectacular at Hartland High School (and it was--as usual--an amazing collection of incredibly talented, mostly acoustic and mostly LOCAL musicians).  It's great to see young people so engaged in making music. I love that my local music scene is so diverse, and that these artists can be both respectful to the tradition and wildly creative as they push the envelope of what music could, and should, be.

Where Will the Next Musical Generation Come From
I often ponder "will there be a new generation of musicians to take the place of these youngsters as they move on in their lives, settle into careers and start raising families?"  As a teacher, I see every day the lure of self-entitlement, instant gratification and "something for nothing" ethics that plaque the millenial and internet generations.  Compounding the problem are the "test till you drop" and  "STEM or bust" attitudes of the education reform and draconian budget cuts that lead to the elimination of Art, Music and vocational offerings in our schools.  Without these creative outlets we face a future as a nation of doers not thinkers, wishers not dreamers and wanters not makers.

Payoff for all those hard days after school...
I was therefore extremely pleased to attend my daughter's middle school band/choir holiday concert and find it alive, energetic and enthusiastic.  Packed into an overcrowded gym, I saw a glimmer of hope.  From the opening color guard flag routine choreographed by members of the team , to the triumphant 8th grade band's cover of a Trans Siberian Orchestra holiday number to close the show, a diverse and far ranging spectrum of talent was on display.

It Takes a Lot of Hard Work To Get Here!

Like most school jazz bands this night featured an eclectic mix of traditional band instruments, with electric strings, piano and a drum kit.  Somewhat unique was seeing the students take turns rising and soloing (some even improvising as they played).  The choir was spot-on with their arrangements.  I loved that a couple of girls were allowed to front the choir on one number and show off some remarkable scat-singing abilities.  Two students even sang A Capella solos (no easy feat in front of several hundred of their peers and their parents).  A quartet of students stole the show with their a A Capella/Hambone number, weaving complex harmonies with even more complicated hand rhythms to receive the only standing ovation of the evening.  Both the 7th and 8th grade bands were rock solid, mixing some traditional holiday numbers with intriquing Afro-Cuban instrumentation and rhythms.

The Hardest Working Elves of All
All in all, it is easy to see why every kids there was laughing, smiling and tapping their foot along to every number.  The dedication of their band and choir teachers is truly spectacular to behold.  If you looked close, you could even see the elementary and high school directors seated with the students playing the odd instrument or two.  And a small army of parents and volunteers all chipped in to make the evening a success.  I shared a bunch of pictures below.  I hope they inspire you, or your child, or a friend to embrace music in your life.  It is the best chance we have for a bright future.

Jolly Oboe Saint Nick?
Singing Her Heart Out
This Drummer had a BALL Playing the Kit
Lots of Marimba for Sarajevo 12-24
White Christmas?
'Merica (couldn't help it)
Gotta Work on the Girls on the Stands....
Long Before "Pitch Perfect" There Was The Hambone.
Director Called his Percussionists "Enthusiastic"
Another Teacher Sneaks in on the Tuba
What it's all about
The Four Smartest Boys in 8th Grade
Cool Kids Play French Horn (with their hat on!)
Love a Doghouse and a Swinging Beat!
Future Blues Horn Section in the Making?
Impressive Scat Singing
Having WAY too much fun!

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