Monday, December 14, 2009

Downtown Everything's Waiting for . . . Suzanna!

For several years Susan and I have been attending our daughters' elementary school music programs. Their music teachers always selected a theme for each program--a theme that united the songs by topic or style, or a theme that was evident in the narration and lines delivered by the students "in character" between songs. So, although they have always been essentially choral performances, they have always felt a little bit like mini-plays, too. Maybe that's why they have their own term: "music program."

Well, tonight for the first time we attended a daughter's music program that was not play-like but that was, in fact, just music. In our school district, there are several elementary schools with grades kindergarten through five in each building; but all sixth-graders attend school in the same building. That's the school that Suzanna attends this year, and at that school, the music programs become music concerts . . as they will be for her from now on. It may seem a silly rite of passage for me to note (pardon the pun), but it's one more marker that our babies continue to get older. Heavy sigh.

Tonight friends of ours from church had some extra seats beside them that they offered to us, so we got to sit in the front row (this never happens at an elementary music program), meaning we got some great photos. (Compare Hillary's recent music program.) The first part of the concert was the vocal performance, and it was quite the hodge-podge of songs: some Christmas ones, yes ("Let It Snow," "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree," "Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas," and "We Wish You a Merry Christmas"), but also some patriotic ("Star-Spangled Banner," "This Land Is Your Land," and "Oh, I Love America") and some hard-to-categorize ("Purple People Eater"). Yep, by sixth grade, they have pretty much abandoned the idea of a unifying theme.

Suzanna the vocalist

The second part of the concert was the band performance, so the group of sixth-graders thinned out considerably as those kids not in band filed out and those kids in band set up their stands and instruments. Again, some Christmas music ("Deck the Halls," "Angels We Have Heard on High," and "Frosty the Snowman") and some not-at-all ("We Will Rock You"). There is quite a range of ability levels amongst the band members. (Was that a politically correct way to put it?) Suzanna, of course, was phenomenal. One of my education students at the university is a music major and trombone player himself, and this semester he completed a field experience in Suzanna's school during which he sat next to her, heard her playing, complimented her skill, and offered to give her private lessons. So for a couple months she has been coming to campus after school once a week to take lessons from him, which has been good teaching experience for him and excellent individualized instruction for her.

Suzanna the trombonist

During the first half of the concert, there was one particular song that we enjoyed more than the others: "Downtown." Suzanna and her classmate Elizabeth stepped up to the microphones for their solos during that number. For your pleasure and edification, here is the portion during which Suzanna was featured (there are some pitch problems at the end when Elizabeth joins in again, but you can be the judge about whom to blame):


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  2. Wow...Suzanna is awesome! Need I say more? Ahem...

  3. It was a unique blend of musical selections.... So proud of Suzanna!