Letter to the Editor
To the editor:
Recently went to a grandson's middle-school 'very-first' band concert at Bob Miller MiddleSchool, Henderson NV. Went as 'support' for the kid, but was sorta dreading it, expecting chaos and ear-hurting sounds...(Oh my...was I in for a BIG surprise...)
Event was held in the school gym... pre-set-up of chairs/music-stands for the two band groups on either side of the gym, with a clear space in the center area--audience in risers/bleachers on either side.
Evening started out pretty much like most school events...lots of noise, kids filtering in, getting settled, parents taking pics, latecomers, greeting announcements, sound-system glitches, etc.
The teacher/conductor, Jeffery Williams, spoke to the audience beforehand, stated first the Beginning Band would play, then the Concert Band, saying that the various groups (percussion/winds/brass) had rehearsed the music in their different classes since school started and had only been combined as one big band and played all together ONCE, for 45 minutes, the previous day.
...came a little transition time...kids began to wiggle and talk again, ditto audience...
Let's see...180 Beginning Band kids (grey T-shirts) plus 88 Concert Band kids (blue T-shirts) = 268 INSTRUMENTs. Good looking groups.
Then, in the midst of this noise, holding his arms down by his sides, the conductor took the podium in front of the Beginning Band of 180 kids....INSTANT SILENCE from all those kids...AND FOCUSED ATTENTION IMMEDIATELY DIRECTED ONTO THE CONDUCTOR. (WOW...WHAT AN EYE-OPENER... it took the audience a bit longer to 'notice' and go silent...)
The kids seated themselves on the front half of their chairs (no sitting-back slouchers) and quickly positioned their instruments in the rest-position. Then, conductor RAISED his arms...kids IMMEDIATELY, smoothly, all nearly as 'one' brought their instruments to ready-position--then the count-off and the DOWN BEAT...
WOW...again, just WOW. The disciplined manner and crisp quick responses of ALL those kids to their conductor/teacher was awesome to see.
Amazingly not a single kid 'noodled' on their instrument at any time during the lengthy wait-time at the beginning of the evening. Later on, during the concert when one or the other band was playing, not a single kid in the waiting group 'noodled'.
Additionally, the kids had been taught NOT TO TAP THEIR FEET TO THE BEAT. (noticed only one foot- tapper) Impressive.
The kids showed an amazing respect towards their teacher in his role as conductor. I loved seeing how much he's already taught them such a short time: what the conductor expects and what all those hand-and-arm-waving-motions mean and how to follow and respond.
All this, in addition to those kids holding in their hands and actually playing...instruments that were probably totally unfamiliar to many of them just a few short months previously.
Overall...the kids did an excellent job of playing those 'new' instruments...a little bit of rushing, eagerness, a few 'different' notes, sometimes in 'different' places...ah well. They stayed all together amazingly well...conductor didn't have to stopandstartagain at any time.
Over the 50 plus years I've played in many community orchestras I've noticed that sometimes, during rehearsals, members would be so focused on their gossip that they wouldn't notice when the conductor would take the podium.
These kids, last night, in their respectful behavior and quick responses, could have been a good object lesson for those 'lazy' yappy community members.
KUDOS...hats-off to the skill and dedication of the band director and to all the kids & support-folks (school & parent) involved...great concert.
Indeed, band directors run a tight ship.
Lou Beauregard, Henderson
January 07, 2013