Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

The Annual Middle and Senior School Music Night

Howdy All.

I am still alive and kicking or maybe just shuffling slightly but still alive anyway!! The Report/Exam nightmare has yet to finish me off!!!!!!

Firstly: all my reports are done hooooorrrrrrraaaaaaaaay.

Secondly: I have yet to organise revision for this week and four exams for next week :-(

Tonight we went to a Music Night put on by the Baby Angels' school. She was in the Year 8 class band playing a repetitive three chords for 'I'm A Believer' on the grand piano as well as *gasp* the opening riff!!!!! What a responsibility.

I must say as I sat watching the first half of the concert, which was mostly classes of compulsory music students fumbling their way through excruciating numbers like 'The Baby Elephant Walk', I wondered why schools do this to their parent body? I mean, I pay my fees on time. What have I done to deserve this???????

The thing is, it's a small school, barely 640 kids from Reception to Year12 and as such, I guess the talent pool is limited. But really! If they can't play an instrument (and what is wrong with the triangle eh? It's what we all played!!!) then WHY make them SING????????????????????

Songs I heard murdered tonight.

1) Yellow Submarine.
What in God's name possesses music teachers to think this is a song which is easy to perform? Well, ok, maybe it is easy but it is neither melodic or aesthetic. Especially played on the xylophone. Several xylophones. And please put it in a key which means they are not singing in their boots!

2) Rave On
and they did. Boots again.

3) Saltwater.
An old fave of mine by Julian Lennon.

"And when the singer hit
The high note that died...
Salt water welled in my eyes..."

4) Did I mention 'Baby Elephant Walk'???
Henry Mancini may have won more personal Oscars than anyone else in the history of life the universe and everything.....but he had not envisaged the road accident a Year 8 class can make of this piece. At least there were no singers.

Cleverly, the staff held a 3 minute intermission at this point, ensuring that the main doors were locked so that those of us Middle School parents who had had just about enough of the torture could not shoot out the door with our respective talentless progeny before the second half!
*sigh* Trapped.

But hark! By Year 10 the pupils are electing to play music and many have some modicum of skill! The second half commenced with a creditable performance of the complex Ben Folds number "Steven's Last Night In Town"! The drummer was ace!!!

This was followed in quick succession by a vocal ensemble and a flute ensemble with each performance outstripping the last. Mind you, the bar was pretty low to start with. BUT....
the five part harmony of the vocal group was pretty and accurate if not powerful (do any of these children have diaphragms nowadays?) and the flutes nailed 'The Entertainer'!

So now we were coming to the Year 12 part of the evening. The interesting thing for me was that this was the year group I had taught three years ago when they were hideous year nines at my previous school. Suddenly I was seeing these obnoxious, argumentative youths as nearly fledged adults. Awkwardness gone. Muscles filled out. Voices steady...no squeaks. Most exciting was seeing one of my reprobate boys as School Captain!!!!!!!!!!!! MC-ing the show! I'm tellin' ya'...my heart was about to bust through my ribs with pride. :-D These guys are specialising in Music for their final year and some hope to go on and study at Uni so I suppose we could have expected that the standard would continue to lift but, let's face it, it's a small college and there were only 5 Year 12 students performing......it was a bit nerve wracking!! This performance was part of their year's assessment and moderators from the examinations board were there. How would they go?

Well. I was blown.a.way.

Firstly came a young man who had always been in trouble for his dyed blonde, gel spiked hair in the days when I was at the school. His still blonde hair was now carefully slicked down into place (obscuring most of his eyes of course) and he was in correct uniform as he picked up his electric bass and treated us to 'U Can't Hold No Groove' by Victor Wooten. Bloody Hell! There were a few of us parents there picking our collective jaws up off the floor I can tell you!!! And there at the back supporting him, having heard the piece for the first time that day, was my old friend the School Captain drumming his heart out! ....wow.......

Barely time to collect ourelves and the next offering was before us. A very tall lanky lad with carrot red hair and a flute. He performed 'Passage' by Jim Snidero and again we were floored!

(note: while trying to download an mp3 of this piece I picked up the delightful trojan/spyware thingy called Antispycheck. Has anyone had any experience with this and if so how do I get rid of it???????)

The final event of the evening was the 'Big Band' which has been a pet dream of the Head of Music for some years now. As the College is a Christian one (big C Christian) most of the kids play rock music. Mr V has foe sometime been dreaming of a brass section and it seems he has achieved it! OK so there were only 4 saxes and 2 trumpets...and one of them was sick.....but hey...the sound was BIG!!!!!! It was so exciting hearing these guys play, many of whom I knew or had taught. The little trumpeter was in Y7 and as his colleague was sick he carried the whole trumpet line himself which of course was most of the melodies! Sensational. And he has only been playing for a year! His little 'chops' were quivering with the exertation by the end of three numbers, especially as the last one was called 'Trumpets With Attitude'!! The whole audience was holding its collective breath, willing him to get through it. And he did! Creditably! The applause was enormous.

So all in all, not a bad night after all, even if I did get behind in school work through getting in late, writing this blog and spending 2 hours trying to get rid of Antispycheck!!!!!!


Maggie said...

The few that can really wow you make sitting through those programs worth it, don't they?

Andi said...

Despite the sluggish beginning, the evening sounded lovely! I know the joy of bursting with pride (and a little shock) at seeing those whom you have taught finally shine...my school is a fine arts magnet school which means that kids who do not live nearby and would like to attend need to apply on the basis that they will participate in some form of the arts. So, I attend MANY evenings as you described here...sadly none as a parent, as the daughter was NOT into the performance arts much to the dismay of her musician father! I am amazed by all of the great pieces that your kids played...our musical selections do not usually interest me quite as much as the ones you listed. Well, glad tha BA did her part and all was well in the end!

Chris in Happy Valleyu said...

Fun, fun, fun! I always love to hear great songs slaughtered. You were fairly close-lipped on BA's performance. Is that humility or something else entirely?

Arizaphale said...

Maggie: not always but last night...yes.

andi: I wish my school was a fine arts magnet school. I also wish the BA's school was a fine arts magnet school. Then at least we could be guaranteed a reasonable night from time to time....

Chris: something else entirely. Bless her. She lost the timing in the middle, she wasn't the only one mind you. But it does concern me that she wants to take drum lessons...........