Friday, December 18, 2009
Middle School Band Holiday Show
Situated a mere 15 minutes from my studio is the Mall of America. This shopping mecca pulls out the stops for the holiday with larger than life trees, wreaths, and no fewer than 7 stages upon which they hold group after group of musicians and other seasonal acts. The violin and harp in the photos are almost 5 feet each, hanging as ornaments on trees that are 4 stories tall. I have taken my students to this stage, until 9/11. After this date, the mall had many forms, and photo i.d.s and signed underage permission hoops to jump through. It got too hard to get it all together at an already busy time. Many a Christmas letter of my families made mention of a certain youngster performing at the "main stage" at the biggest mall in America. ("That would be the same stage as Miley Cyrus, the Jonas Brothers, Mariah Carey, and Taylor Swift, to name a few", said one proud parent.)
Today the middle school band went to the Mall and spent the better part of the morning shopping and eating at the food courts. The buses were loaded with their instruments, which were then stored in the bowels of the building until their performance. Students were excited and wore their hats and antlers. Red and green shirts and shoes abounded amid their shining braces-filled smiles. The 7th grade and the 8th grade each played separate shows, approximately 25 minutes each.
To say that playing in that big open space is difficult is an understatement. The sounds reverberate, the people are loud and for the most part, disinterested. They pause for 8 measures of a piece and walk away, talking on their cell phones or to their friends. Children cry. The rides from the theme park located in the middle of the mall echo with screams and the clatter of roller coasters.
I gave up performing there for a wide variety of reasons, but sounding bad was definitely among them. But the pleasure of playing in this space is not lost on the young. It gave them another way to listen to each other and follow the director at all costs. It was quite the show.