Monday, December 12, 2011

Proud Music

I spent much of this evening at the Ann Arbor Open winter band and orchestra concert. For middle schoolers, they sounded pretty good! The improvement between the intermediate and advanced groups is very noticeable. It's so nice to really see the difference, and understand that they are really learning!

As a parent, it is always a "kvell moment" when your child is performing, and there are not enough opportunities for performance in many types of school work. (Kvell--a Yiddish word that roughly translates to "swell up with pride.")

While I was sitting there in the audience, I was thinking about a couple of conversations I had with my sister and sister-in-law over the past few months. They both have middle-school-age kids, and they all go to "very good public schools" (in other words, comparable to Ann Arbor). But do their kids play instruments? Not anymore. "She tried it for a week..." "After two weeks she decided she didn't like it..." "She wanted to play the flute but she could barely get a sound out of it."

Two things stand out here. First, in the Ann Arbor schools, nobody tries instrumental music for a week. Everybody has to try it for at least a year! Second, students spend a few weeks at the beginning of fifth grade trying out different instruments, and if it's hard for a student to get a sound out of a flute, the teacher will probably not assign flute to that student.

So those conversations--and tonight's concert--really made me appreciate the Ann Arbor Public Schools music scene...especially in the elementary and middle schools, before it gets super competitive. The start that AAPS gives kids in music is awesome!

Or perhaps I should say that the AAPS music program...
Is jazzy.
It's snazzy.
It rocks and 
it rolls.
It's classy and
it's brassy!
It boogies and
it bounces!

Thanks, music teachers!

P.S. I would put in a plug here for Horns for the Holidays, but I'm not sure it still exists. Does anybody know? If you have an instrument in good condition, many of our local school districts would probably welcome the donation.


  1. Thanks for this piece, schoolsmuse! My eldest will start music education next year, and I really didn't have any idea what that would look like. I appreciate the insight.

  2. Thanks for asking about Horns for the Holidays. I still continue to accept and distribute instruments on a limited basis. I don't have an official Fiduciary relationship at this time, so donors can't get a tax receipt, but folks still contact me and I still have a few instruments available. I haven't publicized the program as in the past since it's just me handling all the work and don't have a budget for repairs.

    I started the program believing that if we can make a difference in one child's future through musical opportunities we have provided a great service and I will continue the program on whatever level time and resources allow. I believe over the 13 years or so we have provided close to 400 instruments to children who might have not had that opportunity. Any teachers have further questions can contact me at Peace & Happy Holidays! Ken Kozora

  3. Thanks Ken! So Horns for the Holidays is still a possibility.

    It also turns out that the school districts can take the instruments directly if they are in good condition--I happened to notice in last week's school board packet that they voted to accept a donation of a cornet. And I think that any of the school districts can do that (and you can get the tax deduction--probably not for this year though!). If you want to donate an instrument, start with your school's music teacher or principal--or, if you don't have a student in the schools, contact the administrative offices.