Tuesday, December 23, 2014

3 Things from an Arlington Elementary School Winter Concert

Ahhh, the Arlington Elementary School Winter Concert. It's becoming one of our Winter Holiday Traditions. It was yet another year of note screeching adorableness as kids of all musical levels demonstrated their know how. Here's 3 things I took away noticing.

Thing #1: check out those clarinet skills!

We were mainly at the concert to cheer on our friend's 4th grader as he made his clarinet debut. Here's his first few notes:

Musical greatness comes from such humble beginnings, no?

Thing #2: how Arlington deals with the December Dilemma

Should the winter concert be a holiday concert? A Christmas concert? A Chanukah-Christmas-Kwanza concert? A Peace Concert? That's the December Dilemma (thanks David for the article). This concert took the path of Diversity and Political Correctness. Here's the kids singing Ocho Kandelikas:

That's a Jewish folks song in the nearly-lost language of Ladino. They also sang a Yiddish folks song, a couple of Chanukah pieces and one piece simply labeled Mazel Tov. There were a couple of esoteric Christmas songs, but almost none of the standard ones you'd expect. The principal was deft enough to wish everyone a happy holiday season and never mention the phrase (that I heard) Merry Christmas.

You could be outraged at this, because well, you can be outraged at just about any practice during the December season (it's too Christian; it's not Christian enough!). But, on the whole, I can live with this approach. Better to use the opportunity to teach the kids that there's all sorts of musical traditions out there, than get mired in Christmas celebration debates. On the other hand, it would be fine with me if they mentioned the C-word, Christmas, more often.

Thing #3: love the Bucket Brigade

Nearing the end of the program a stream of kids entered the auditorium with orange Home Depot buckets and drum sticks. They proceeded to bang away to a number of songs. I don't have an audio clip or photo, so you'll have to take my word that it happened. I've got to think that cost plays a role when it comes to music education, and it was awesome to see that for less than $5 (that's $2.97 for the bucket, and $1.67 for the drum sticks) you can give a kid a drum education. More importantly, it opens kids minds up to the idea that everything about music can be improvised, including (and especially) the instruments.

To make up for the missing Bucket Brigade audio clip, here's one for the spiritual Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning. A drum sets the beat at the beginning of the song.

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