Thanks to all who helped organize and operate this event. Special thanks to those who adjusted their schedules and activities in order to give their student this opportunity. As with everything we do, the process is where the learning takes place. Performance is simply the enjoyment of the finished product.
As we approached the symphonic camp activity, there were rumblings and grumblings about spending Friday evening and most of Saturday practicing. A few parents (and students) made it a point to be very negative about the experience before it even started. Several families had scheduled events in conflict with camp, even though there were months ahead of the event to work out attendance solutions. A fairly large number of students missed some or all of the activity. As you read the following, you will see why this is a concern of ours.
As the Friday rehearsal began, a change took hold in each rehearsal room. Within the first hour, there was a sense of urgency, excitement, and interest in the music making process. On Saturday, this sense of accomplishment grew as the students heard and felt the progress they were making. The section coaches were able to share details and make improvements in the music that many of the students probably thought impossible in one rehearsal. Even though fatigue was reality by mid-afternoon, the students pushed through and finished with a flourish. All three Pope Bands came away from the camp vastly improved and much more knowledgeable about their music. The enthusiasm in each rehearsal room was palpable as the students played a passage better than they had ever played it before. As they mastered a difficult part, you could see the confidence level growing. When a section showed improvement, the other sections acknowledged the effort and appreciated the results.I challenge you to find many other activities where the sense of unity and accomplishment by EVERY member is as strong.
Our hope for all of our students is that they understand, enjoy, and improve their skills in music. We want them to learn how to function as a part of an entity that is larger than themselves and one that can create something that cannot be done alone. We want to nurture their sense of discovery and accomplishment. All of these things occurred during the camp rehearsals. How do you "make up" these experiences? Can your child experience these joys and accomplishments alone at home practicing? The truthful answer is "no". Now, please be aware that this is not an indictment of those who had legitimate conflicts or other plans...simply an observation of reality that you sometimes only get one opportunity at certain experiences and if you miss it, you might not be able to duplicate it.
Will those who could not attend "catch up" with the performance of those who were present? If they work diligently and invest some extra time, they probably can. Did they experience the emotional rush and the intellectual stimulation offered by our guest teachers? No...but they can still work hard and get a lot out of our regular rehearsals and performances. We will never have a group activity without schedule conflicts, but we do need to ask our members to look at our band events as opportunities for learning rather than impositions on our other activities. That's the way we design them. Communicate well in advance, and if you simply can't be at our event, look for ways to try and keep pace or have some type of musical development activity rather than just being frustrated with us because our activity was at the same time as something else.
We have a strong program with many, many positive opportunities. That's where our focus should remain. With support and assistance in providing the best opportunitites for learning and growth, the finished product will be amazing, but more importantly, the process will teach lessons that will be valuable for a lifetime. Help us to offer your students this chance!