Photo by Christa Gutschenritter www.christa-taylor.com
By Stephanie Shea, Musicality Network Manager and Saxophone Instructor
Listen to audio tracks from some of our school concerts here: https://soundcloud.com/the-musicality-network
The first concert of the spring was scheduled for Jason Lee K-8, in NE Portland. The first thing that struck me about the school’s website was that there were several languages represented. In the photos they show of the students, I saw a wide range of nationalities and cultural backgrounds represented. And this immediately made me excited to go and play there because we try to include music from different parts of the world into our program.
The staff was welcoming, as were the students. It was particularly touching to see the school had arranged for a small group of students to accompany us to the auditorium and find out if there was anything we needed to set up. Soon, they were running to get us extension cords, duct tape and look for someone to help us turn on the PA system. They seemed eager to be involved and help out the visitors to their school.
About that PA system…. Well, I learned a lesson that day to always bring a microphone that we can hook up to our own amplifier. It seems that the school’s system was not functioning, so to talk to the children we were going to have to speak loudly out into the crowd. And what a crowd! Soon the auditorium filled with hundreds of kids in grades K-8 and an excitable energy filled the room.
It wasn’t easy using only my voice to communicate with so many students in such a large room. But what was apparent is how enthusiastic these students were about experiencing live music in their school. We played a variety of genres from jazz to Eastern European folk to classical. I noticed that when Patrick played Allemande from the Bach flute Partita in A minor on his alto sax, the room became silent and I could tell many of the students were mesmerized by this beautiful sound they had never heard before. I had never heard this classical piece played on an alto sax before either, and Patrick played it beautifully!
This may have been one of our largest audiences and it felt special to be able to reach so many kids at one time. But, I think the favorite part of the day for me and the other instructors was the one-on-one interactions we were able to have with some of the students. First, when we were setting up, and again at the end of the show. After most of the students had filed out of the auditorium, one teacher allowed his class to stop by the stage and come look at our instruments as we were packing up.
I really wish I had captured these moments with a photo. My heart was so warmed to look over and see Gabriel letting a boy hit his drum kit with the sticks and Patrick surrounded by several kids as he explained some of the keys on his saxophone. I knew that these moments were going to become treasured memories for both the Musicality Instructors and for the kids!
This is part two of a five-part series where I’ll talk about the experiences of the Musicality Network instructors at each of the schools we performed at this school year. There was something uniquely beautiful in each school concert!