Well, last night was it.  The time for which we had practiced and planned for 7 sessions.  The bell choir performed.  We did our worst piece first and progressed to the best one.  The kids were nervous.  Their faces showed.  Our clown actually was serious.  The first piece was atrocious – musically speaking.  Everyone got lost and I picked a starting point on “line 3, first measure”  and restarted again.  The last chord was a group of randomly played bells in unison.  But at least they were together on the last note.  We reset the music, traded appropriate bells to ready for the next piece, and waited for the next group to do their number.  (There were several groups performing various numbers)  The next piece was almost recognizable.  The dotted quarter note timing was a bit closer to correct.  A couple rushed their notes and threw off the timing so that I was trying to quietly sing the notes to get them to follow.  This piece was written as a more single note melody with chords on beat 1.  It was a bit more recognizable, but again, being lost was a problem – I could tell.  I was even lost at a time as it was apparent a couple of different measures were being attempted.  We took our seats.  A couple more presentations were done then we were called up for the final number.  This one was their best, and recognizable.  They stuck with it most of the way, though there was an occasional rush.  I could see one or two freeze at their notes, so I tried to urge on the group.  Well, we made it.

One parent asked for a picture with us and a child.  Another director mentioned next year and we were even told one of the kids stated they wanted to do bells next year.   Wow!  I guess this shows performance isn’t everything.  Considering what our starting point was, though, they did all right.  This was a group of kids who had only seen “do, ra, me” in class.  They had never seen a note and we were teaching whole, half, quarter, eighth, and dotted quarter notes.  They had never seen a staff.  We instructed on the note names for the lines and spaces, though it was not much utilized as our time was limited.  We ended up assigning bells and highlighting the notes on the page, so that the kids would only have to pay attention to the timing and play when that highlight showed.  Lastly, we only had 7 practices to take a group of kids who had never touched a bell, or read a note to perform 3 pieces.  The director stated we did well with what we had – that we were starting with nothing.  I understand what she meant.  When I was in elementary school, we were reading music at the second grade.  I started piano in second, viola in third, and trumpet in fourth grade.  I this area of the country, they don’t get actual music until sixth.  Pity.  At least this group now knows 5 timings and has seen the staff and measure, so learning has occurred.  It was worth the effort.

Advertisements