Friday, January 23, 2009

Professor Longhair/Bowfinger/I came, I saw, I sat and sawed.

We attended our first concert at Sam's Middle School, last Wednesday evening. We told no one (sorry G & G) because a) we didn't know what to expect and b) Sam advised us that his portion would be rather small. He also wasn't thrilled about a white shirt, tie, and shoes, for that matter. Suitably attired, he assumed his position on stage.



This is only the second year that this program has existed at Pershing. It also looks extremely ambitious to me. There were seven separate groups that performed - separate orchestras for 2 grades, bands for all 3 grades, an 8th grade wind ensemble, and the Pershing Panther Jazz Pride band, complete with 3 bass players playing the "Peter Gunn Theme" in unison. It was actually interesting to track the progress of musicianship from one grade level to the next, and that's all I'm going to say about that. I was most impressed by the way the young teacher managed this large, intermingled group of students, music, and logistical swarming between group changes. He certainly seemed up to the task. Initially, I feared for his sanity. Whether he is in fact sane or not is not actually important; I nonetheless admire his fortitude on several levels.

The auditorium was suitably filled with a family crowd out on a school night. Sam's group, first group up, nervously waited with us through the requisite announcements and introductions. The 6th Grade Orchestra dove right into "Beginning String Medley",
"Grasshopper Chomp", and finally, "March of the Metro Gnome". Thunderous Applause, Sam's done, off the stage, and we settled into our seats for the polite finish.

Evening turned to night. Instruments came and went. Tympani were tuned, re-tuned, and, of course, in true ugly American fashion, the crowd began to dwindle. Sure, part of me longed to join them (mostly my middle-aged rear end on that wooden auditorium seat), but we do our best to teach the right things by doing the right things. Emma even eventually lost interest and turned to the Sesame Street-laden iPod from Mom's purse. The numbness from the aforementioned region eventually spread to my cranium as we passed the two-hour mark. Then, gratefully, it was over. We collected our cellist and headed home to a ten-o'clock dinner.

With the exception of some pre-k bell ringing, this is the first time I've been the one in the audience and not the one on stage. I have a few more times to go before I can sort out all of the feelings about that, and I'm more than willing and happy to do so. Pride and awe in my son, first and foremost. Wistfulness for times past. Newfound empathy for that teacher. Joy at hearing the "Peter Gunn Theme" played with a certain juvenile vigor. The cornucopia of sounds that surround "intonation."  "Playing Through." Yes, I'm thinking of you, Mark. What smug punks we still are - rightly so, man, rightly so. The confidence of youth I saw in those bass players. The promise of things to come, promises kept, spent, fulfilled and left wanting. It was a good evening. Bittersweet.