Saturday, May 3, 2008

One small step for man..........

......or maybe I should have said "woman", LOL! :)

I took my band, such as it is, to their first real band contest yesterday. It's called Solo and Ensemble festival, and the SC Band Directors Assoc. holds the event at 4 locations around the state. Our nearest one was just 15 miles up the road (ironically, a stone's throw from my own house!), so thanks to a brilliant idea from DH, I decided to try the contest this year. It's supposed to be for small groups; you go into a regular classroom (not like an auditorium, etc) and then play for one judge and get a rating. 1 is best, 5 worst. It's like you're competing against yourself, rather than other groups. There's no 1st place, no "winner" etc.

It has taken some time, and major salesmanship on my part, to sell the idea to my band (which right now consists of 12 people). "Come on, it'll be fun! We can ride the short bus to get there, hopefully win a medal if we get a 1, even go next door to the school to a fun park place with an arcade, race cars, putt putt, etc". And to convince them all that we really needed them, how integral each one was to our performance, what the judge is looking for, why we have to dress up, how the scoring works..........the list seemed endless.

Fast forward to yesterday, Contest day: 9 of my students traveled with me on the short bus (with yours truly driving!) to the fun park and then to the contest. 3 students were missing, and 2 of them had valid reasons why. One is just slack! But anyway, the 10 of us went and had a blast. No bus breakdowns, I didn't hit anything, we were on time to all locations, no one got hurt along the way. At the fun park, we had the race car track all to ourselves.........guess who came in last? But that was ok, we had fun. Played air hockey and arcade games, ate bad concession stand food, then they changed into their dress-casual stuff and we went over to perform.

It was just really cool seeing "my kids" in the realm of real band events. It's one thing for the 12 of us to play for school pep rallies, have our own little concerts, etc, but to see them as they get to see first hand what other band kids from other schools just take for granted, that was really nice for me. We warmed up and tuned outside, as the inside warmup area was a total zoo. Playing outside was nice, until the sun started to go down and the lovely Lowcountry gnats attacked!!!!!!! Wish I had a video of the kids swatting gnats off of their legs while trying to play an instrument at the same time!!!!!

I wrote a note to our judge, and enclosed it with our music so she could have the back story on us and know why our situation is unique (aka--so she'd give us a break and look at us a bit differently, because we are). I could tell the kids were nervous, but we did our thing and then stepped into the hall where you wait for your score. It came out, with another sheet paperclipped on top, so I slid the top sheet away............and it was a 1!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OMG, we did it! This is something we really needed, a chance for my kids to win something and really get to brag about it back home. Our school wins every athletic award known to man, and even gets new awards invented for them (I'm not kidding), and though our medals are small, you better believe there's going to be some serious bragging going on next week. Big time bragging, and deservedly so, if I may say that. It's our turn, people! Step aside, volleyball/crosscountry/soccer/golf/lacrosse/tennis/wrestling and all of the rest of you!

I'm so proud of the kids; their behavior, performance and everything else. And I'm hoping that this taste of success and seeing the band world beyond our little classroom will really just make them that much more interested in doing it again and seeing more of that world. A girl can dream, right? So like I said, one small step, and it's hopefully just the first small step of many more to come!


lyndsey said...

OMG that's awesome, Jen! Congrats to you and your students! Very very cool!

tafkalorelei said...

WOOT!!! That's awesome!!

Sarah said...

How cool!!! Sounds like the start of a movie or something very inspirational :)

Congrats on your 1 rating, that's GREAT!! And good for you for being so brave and taking them all by yourself.

Amy said...

I remember the first time our little band got a 1 at a contest in high school. It's a wonderful feeling. Congrats to you and your students for a job well done!