The art of building a band
Flute, clarinet, trumpet and saxophone players, as well as percussionists, played a snippet from each instrument to give potential new musicians a feel for the sound. The band then played a selection that included the instrument.
“They need to see other kids playing the instrument and know that it's a realistic possibility for them,” said Leon Grande, music instructor at St. Patrick School.
Grande began teaching general music one day a week at St. Patrick School after more than 30 years of teaching music in the Dracut, Mass., school system. Before retiring, he was a teacher and supervisor of fine and performing arts, and directed the high school marching band and chorus.
Grande pitched the idea of starting an instrumental program for students in grades five through eight to Principal Henry Golec, who was immediately on board.
For Grande, it's all about providing an opportunity that the children might not have had otherwise. In addition to the enrichment that music can add to their lives, participation in a musical program can help on college applications. Most high school musicians learned to play before starting high school.
“I know its changed my life, it changed some of these kids lives, and it's going to change some St. Patrick's kids too,” Grande said.
Bishop Guertin band director Brian Starck was excited for the opportunity being presented to St. Patrick's students and hopes some of them will play for Bishop Guertin in the future. It was an honor to perform for them, he said.
“The kids work very hard, and it's always fun for them to get to share their talents and passion for music,” Starck said.
The audience smiled and swayed as the Bishop Guertin band played a variety of marching band standards and contemporary favorites.
“I thought they sounded awesome,” said St. Patrick student Emma Johansen.
The concert inspired Johansen to join the instrumental music program. She's considering taking up the flute.
Morgan Walsh, 13, was leaning toward the trumpet.
“I thought it would be a fun thing to do, and make me more well-rounded and open to music,” Walsh said.
Lori McDermott, the school's technology coordinator, said the program is a great addition. Band was a large part of her childhood and she's glad that her daughter, a sixth-grader at the school, will have an opportunity to experience that. Most children in the public school system start playing instruments at this age level, she said. “It's been missing for a long time,” McDermott said.
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Julie Hanson may be reached at Jhanson@newstote.com.
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