Monday, March 09, 2009

This Little Light of Mine


This Little Light of Mine
Originally uploaded by V'ron
I'm still getting caught up with my blogging (lots went down in the arts and entertainment community this weekend) but get ready for a glowing review of my kids' school music recital. I'm so very happy with the music curriculum at Downtown Montessori Academy -- Miss Barb not only implements the official Monterrori program, but she's expanding the kids' exposure to all different kinds of music.

The theme this past Thursday was Jazz -- and it's influence on American music in general. As my Sammy is in the K 3-4-5 class, they went first, changing an African tune as they took the stage, and then went into two precious spirituals accompanied with American Sign Language. I literally got choked up as they sang their hearts out on "This Little Light of Mine" with the sign language -- all these precious little kids, letting their light shine so brightly I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. They followed with an equally enthusiastic "You Gotta Sing When the Spirit Moves You" and I was floored. The K-5 kids were next, and accompanied themselves with tambourines and dances, singing The Blues (including a Rainy Day Blues that was apt.)
This school isn't big enough for a full orchestra program, but they're still teaching music theory basics via instruction on the recorder -- and Stella's class delivered some ragtime/dixieland in the form of the Riverboat Rag and Dixie Cat. Even at this point, Miss Barb challenged these kids to do a little improv, and in some cases, thes kids were only hampered by their own nervousness, but I was impressed to see that they're being challenged anyway. Plus, Miss Barb's keyboard accompanient had technical difficulties, so the kids were a little thrown off since they had to play their first song a little differently than they rehearsed. I really didn't notice a problem until that had been explained, and I tried to tell Stella it was fine. What Stella doesn't understand yet is that if the audience didn't notice a problem, then you did well -- that's showbiz, baby. But she was still upset that she didn't deliver 100%. She's a perfectionist.
Also impressive was the adolescent program, who took the stage with acoustic guitars, reading sheet music, and playing the melody for Sing Sing Sing. OK, they're not ready for the Tommy Dorsey orchestra, but after three months with a guitar, I was lucky if I could get through the chords for Blitzkrieg Bop, and to this day, I still can't read sheet music for a string instrument. Bravo kids.

But this is kind of a giveaway review. These kids could have gone onstage and sang the phone book out of key and I would have cheered. Mostly because they're MY kids (and my friends' kids, and my kids' friends, and let's not forget our Girl Scouts, who I've come to know and love this year), but also because I appreciate music that comes from the heart, delivered by people devoid of self consciousness or irony, people who wanted to deliver they best that they could do, yet challenge themselves. Sammy's pure joy warmed my heart, and Stella's drive for perfectionism made it burst with pride. Sorry, no criticism on this or pithy comments today. You'll have to wait another day for some Sixthstation snarkyness as I approach the weekend offerings.

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