Friday, March 18, 2016

Just look what you've done to Good King Wenceslas


I attended my first 5th grade band concert last night. My enthusiasm was a bit low because my daughter had practiced for a grand total of zero minutes in preparation for the concert. Back in September, she was totally gung-ho about the clarinet.  She could not wait for me to pick it up from the music shop. She could not wait to play the thing. That lasted all of five minutes. Since then, it's all she can do to remember to take it to school on Fridays, when the band teacher comes to her school to work with the kids. All I know is that the music shop is yanking 30-something dollars out of my bank account every month. My husband did not want our daughter to take band because she's already in a local choir, which is a pretty significant time/money investment as it is. I overrode his concerns because I felt like it would be good for the kid to learn to read music.  I still think that was a good plan. She has learned to read music, at least to some extent.

Yesterday morning, she frantically handed me a permission slip that needed to be signed in order for her to participate in the concert. "Um, how long have you had this?" I asked. I translated her facial expression as "many weeks." 

The band concert included students from about five different schools. It was basically two concerts: the orchestra for about 40 minutes and then the band for about the same amount of time. Mostly the same songs for both. I sat with a friend whose daughter plays the violin. The orchestra played Hot Cross Buns, Jingle Bells, and a bunch of other short tunes. It was weird hearing Christmas carols in March, but the kids had been learning them for a while so I guess it made sense. Honestly, the orchestra was better than I would have expected. I assume that learning a bow instrument must be fairly challenging.  I'd sure have no idea how to do it. Anyone who's heard me powering through new hymns at church knows that I do not know how to read music.

Next up was the band. My daughter took her place on stage and I really couldn't see her after that. She was in a sea of clarinet players and plus, she's short.  They played many of the same tunes that the orchestra kids had played. There was also a Spanish translator who repeated everything the band teacher said, which was pretty cool. I kind of giggled when she said "something something something something HOT CROSS BUNS."  In between each song, kids from various schools played brief solos. Some of them were good and a couple of them were pretty brutal. I gave the kids credit for getting up there, though. Because all of the kids are first-year band students, they only have a handful of songs in their repertoire. So, we heard Frere Jacques and Good King Wenceslas about a dozen times with the solos. Whatever the school district is paying the band/orchestra teacher, they should double it. If I thought I'd heard Good King Wenceslas a lot of times, he'd probably heard it ten times that number. Every time a kid played it, I sang in my head, "Deep and crisp and eeeeven!"

Then, at the very end of the concert, all my dreams came true. A boy named Viggo stood up and played the Star Wars theme flawlessly on his trumpet. I mean, he rocked it. I cheered for the kid.

After the concert, I looked for my clarinet player in the sea of fifth graders and parents jammed into the hallway.  I think my kid was in a panic because I couldn't find her, but that's what she gets for being so short. When I finally found her, I congratulated her on the concert. I also asked, "Hey, do you want a brother? I'm adopting Viggo."  She rolled her eyes and gave me her you're-not-funny look.  I hear "You're not funny!" about 80 times a day. She has also added this to her tween-speak lexicon: "I hate my life!"

So there you have it. My first band concert. By the time my daughter was born, I'd spent seven years trying to become a mom. I couldn't wait to get my first macaroni-glued-on-a-paper-plate art project. I couldn't wait to teach her to ride a bike. So many firsts. I joke about the band concert but even though my ear drums suffered a bit, it mostly felt like an honor.

Anyway, have fun singing Good King Wenceslas in your head for the rest of the day. "Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the feast of Steeeeephen!"


1 comment:

Alicia McMahan said...

Good for you! Speaking as a ES strings teacher we have heard HCB, Good King, Lightly Row, Twinkle, etc... a billion times. But the kids are always proud of themselves as are the parents and it makes the job worthwhile. I'm glad her concert went well. Alicia ( a May 2005 mom who teaches in your old stomping ground, Fairfax)