Tonight I went to my 13 year-old nephew's Jazz Band Concert. Now, mind you, the kids were grades 7-12. There were 4 different bands. The first band consisted of several 7th and 8th graders. They decided they wanted to be a band. These kids were fantastic. The next band was 7th - 12th graders. Well, they blew my socks off too. The next, a combo was 6 guys grades 8-12. They not only totally amazed me, they blew everyone's socks off at a competition a couple weeks ago and it was their first time participating. They received a standing ovation from the other bands. The last band also consisted of all the grades. Those kids were fantastic too. And Saturday they go for regional competition at Michigan State University. These kids do a lot of their own arranging of the songs and for the most part, their music was memorized.
They have a new director this year and he is fantastic. He has taken the kids to new levels. Two of the bands meet during non-regular school hours. The combo comes in at 7:00AM daily and one meets during G period which I think is supposed to be kind of a free period. The kids in the 1st group even get together on Saturday mornings at one of their house's for outside practice. This school really encourages music. In most schools, kids aspire to be the top sports star. In this one, it is the top musician. I've never seen so many good musicians in one school and it is a small school -- a charter school. And I've never seen middle and high school play together. Usually there is such a difference in skill level, the high schoolers would not want the younger ones playing with them. These kids all have such a great time playing together. One of the boys who plays in the combo and the last group plays fiddle and guitar. Right after he graduates in a few weeks, he is joining the army and will become a member of the U.S. Army Band. The kid can play!
Black River, you guys rock!!!