Tonight was the first performance of the 2011-12 Penns Valley Marching Band season and the first performance of all time for two of my kids. There was a lot of build up to tonight's event - if only in the Brown household. Listening to the kids' concerns and speculations of the night brought back so many good memories of my band days: the white bucks (they have black), the careful donning of the uniform for the first time (they have crisp, new uniforms this year), the nervousness in performing in front of so many people -- I can remember being absolutely sure that mine was the only instrument that people could hear, and if (gasp) I screwed up . . . .
My kids' nervousness shows in different ways. My son will tell me straight out that he has butterflies in his belly. My daughter will not let on that she is nervous at all. But I can tell. She gets a little louder, a little gigglier. There was a lot of laughter tonight as the kids waited for the parade to begin. But the instant the drum major gave the command for attention, every musician snapped into place.
I think this is amazing. I've written before about the changes that have occurred recently within our band department. The musical leadership in our school district is amazing. Under their guidance, these kids - many of them new to the program - brought it together with only one practice a week over the summer. They were sharp and sounded great.
If anyone ever questions the value of a teacher, they need to spend some time observing some of these programs of the arts. I'd be willing to bet that if not all, nearly all of these kids will contribute greatness to this world - above what they've already given us tonight. But yet funding for school programs continues to be cut, teachers are given less and less freedom to teach creatively, and everyone suffers.
But for a half hour tonight, pure magic played at Medlar ballpark.