Our school district belongs to a group of local school districts that have a half-day program called the Governor’s School for the Arts. Students in the local high schools can audition and be admitted to a program spanning art, dance, music and theater.
My daughter is attending this program. She is in her first year there, and spends her afternoons practicing, rehearsing with an ensemble, and getting instruction in her intruments. She plays symphonic percussion, so rather than having one instrument to master, she has dozens.
She had a good foundation in middle school, and she started taking lessons with the principal timpanist of the symphony. It was he that urged her to audition, and with his help and support, she landed her place at the school.
Last year she was in the highest level band her high school offered. Sadly, their level was far below hers. Because she was the only freshman in the percussion section, she was not given the more meaty parts that would have kept her engaged. She did participate in the local youth symphony, and that gave her valuable experience. She begged not to have to take band at the high school again this year, and I was relieved when she was accepted to the arts program.
I remember sitting at her band concert last midwinter. I cringed at points because the music was simple – stuff I had done in middle school – yet the bands couldn’t seem to hit the right notes. The tuning was atrocious, and players slumped over in their seats, rather than sitting up and engaging with the music. One of the percussionists was making arm movements that were extravagant, and would lead to serious RSI later on. At one point several of the percussionists were dancing in the back of the stage. I felt sorry for the instructor, knowing what sort of kids he was dealing with, as well as sorry for my poor ears.
This year the concert was amazing. The orchestra did the music from Vertigo, Tchaikovsky’s Hamlet and some songs with a guest artist. The music was captivating, well-rehearsed and challenging. It was a pleasure to listen to. Yes, she is the junior member of the department, but her conductor texted her one evening to ask her opinion about the new bass drum. She was blown away at being listened to. Later this year they will be doing Mahler 2 – something our professional orchestra will be doing next season.
I am extremely proud of my daughter for putting in the work on this program. It’s not an easy schedule: she leaves for school at 6:45 am and does her regular high school classes until noon. Then she boards a bus and heads to another city, where she does three and a half hours of intensive music education and rehearsals, getting home after 5pm every day. I’m proud of her for the work ethic she is developing. I’m proud of her commitment to managing the school work with this crazy schedule. And even though she will most likely never be a professional musician, I am proud of her for committing to the program and learning what she can, knowing she will be able to use the general skills later in life.
Way to go, E!
Photo by photosteve101