Tis the Season… for Christmas Concerts

As I sit here waiting for my students to take the stage for their Winter Concert, it brings back many memories. 

Getting dressed up and meet in with family and friends was a great experience but it was also one of the most stressful performances ever for me. If there was anyone you ever wanted to impress, it was the people who bought your instrument and took you to performances and rehearsals as well as putting up with your practicing. 😉

I am amazed every year at the transformation that overcomes our students from first learning to play to their first concert all the way up to the final concert of middle school.

As the sixth grade band finished, I am amazed at their progress. Yes, there were clarinets that squawked, rushing trumpets, and a slew of students who played through rests.

That is not the point. As they learn to practice, trust in both their abilities and the players around them. Most importantly, as they learn to watch and trust the director instead of playing what they feel, they will be fine. About 120 beginning band players have left the stage with many missed notes left behind in their wake.But, the potential they take with them is measureless.

As the seventh grade band begins to assert their presence on the audience, oh what a difference a year makes. Major improvements in tone quality, volume control, and staying in  tempo. Yes, clarinets still squawk the song of their people but not near as much. It is like listening to bands grow up before your ears.

With the emergence of the eighth grade band on the stage, one of the most notable differences immediately noticed is they are the smallest of the bands. The reasons for that are probably too numerous to list: victims of drama, disillusionment, and conflicting priorities that go along with growing up.

The first two pieces they played amazed me. They were concert pieces , not traditional Christmas songs, and these eighth graders sounded like a high school band. I loved their third piece … “How the Grinch Stole the Christmas Concert.”

It all ended up with the Leroy Anderson classic, “Sleigh Ride” and the trumpet player nailed the half-valve horse whinny at the end … That was always the most stressful part of the ghosts of Christmas concerts past.

Another Christmas concert has come and gone and I feel if I really searched the crowd, I could see the memories of them  all … old colleagues that I taught with, old bandmates I played with decades ago.

It’s the miracle of Christmas … when we see the best in everything and everyone no matter our circumstances.

That is why I love a Christmas concert. We are at our best and all is right with the world … until the music stops and we must wake up to the harsh realities of life.

Oh, well, we’ll always have next year.

1 Comment

  1. Christmas is not here until that concert is done. I have done so many Christmas concerts in my lifetime it’s not even funny. But my favorite concerts to do more than nine lessons and carols concerts with the Appleton boychoir both as a boy and later with the mastersingers under my father’s Direction. Sadly that tradition for my family has ended this year. Although I was not able to participate on stage, I was able to watch my father as he passed the Baton to the Next Generation. So this year’s Christmas concert was very Bittersweet for me. Cherish them while you have them. For one day they will no longer be there.


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