We also had area professionals come in to work specifically with each instrument section from the Wind Symphony and Symphonic Bands. This gave the students a ton of very specific information that they can use as they continue to grow as performers. These "section coaches" are professional performers, college professors, and private teachers from all over metro-Atlanta. Some of them you have heard playing in the pit orchestras for shows in the Fox Theater and other venues.
Our students represented themselves well and all three conductors told us that they were impressed with the attentiveness, work ethic, and good manners of our young people. This is very gratifying to hear in this day and age when you typically only hear negatives about teenagers!
Thanks to our chaperones and to the equipment parents who helped transport items from Hightower Trail for the event. Thanks to Mr. Cole and Mr. Norton for loaning us the instruments needed to have our event!
Unfortunately, even with all of these positives, we did have a few negative issues. Absenteeism in Concert Band was at an unacceptable level. 26% of the group did not show up for their part of the event. We cut back the attendance for concert band to only one rehearsal on Friday (released them from the remainder of the event on Saturday) in order to reduce their time commitment. We advertised this event on the calendar since September, discussed the event for 3 months during class, and handed out schedules immediately following winter break. At the beginning of the year, we had all families sign a participation agreement outlining the importance of attendance at events and explaining the consequences when students are missing. After all of this, we had 13 missing...only 5 of which communicated with us in advance. Most of those who did let us know that they were missing did so only 24-48 hours in advance. Ironically, most of these e-mailed that the conflicting plans had been made "early in the school year"..."several months ago"...or "before we knew about Symphonic Camp". If the conflicts were known that far in advance, why was communication withheld until mere hours before the camp?
In some cases, a section of 5 players had only one student attending. Three parts were reduced to one incomplete part. Some parts were missing altogether. Working on balance, blend, and tuning was impossible. Percussionists had to reassign and learn new parts on the spur of the moment to cover for missing players. When we return on Tuesday, it will take well over a week to bring the missing students up to speed. This is terribly unfair to those who did what they were expected to do and participated in the event. There is no "make up" possible, because we will not have a guest conductor working with the group again this year. If we withheld our schedules until the day before concerts, practices, or trips... parents would be furious. All we are asking is for our parents to communicate with us in a timely manner if there are conflicts. We can work out many situations given time, but we can't work out conflicts at the last minute. I would hate to think that this is the tactic causing the late communication...to make it impossible to find an alternative...but you have to wonder when it happens time and again. Please be aware of the importance of our group activities. Missing students affect the entire band. Please plan carefully, and communicate far in advance when a conflict is anticipated.
We provide many wonderful experiences for our students and we want all students to benefit. What we do as a performing ensemble is dependent on having all members participating. Help us to deliver the best possible experiences by planning and communicating well in advance. Your student deserves more than the minimum education...and we strive to provide that through our supplemental activities. Help us continue to offer these experiences by working with us to