Thursday, February 7, 2013
You all missed a great show!
Which is great. I love that fact that so many kids are involved in sports. It keeps them active, social, it teaches them the value of teamwork, how to get along with people -- basic building blocks of living within a community.
But when it comes to the arts ... well ... I'm not sure we're as evolved.
I went to a band concert last night. Now just hold on, I know what you're thinking: "Here we go, another blurb about how great his kids are in the band blah blah blah clarinet blah blah blah saxophone blah blah blah."
It wasn't my kid's concert. (We may get to the blah blah blah, but hear me out first.)
Last night at Mankato West High School the St. Olaf Band made the last stop on its annual winter tour before heading back to Northfield for its final winter tour concert. If you're unfamiliar with such things (and for most part, I am very unfamiliar, but I'm learning a lot these last few years) St. Olaf is one of the premiere colleges for music. Certainly they are one of the best in the region, probably one of the best in the nation among liberal arts schools.
Their arrival in the West auditorium should have been met with a few hundred people. But as I sat comfortably in my chair -- surrounded by plenty of empty chairs -- I looked around. If the other onlookers and I had been so inclined, we maybe -- maybe -- could have fielded a pair of football teams and went at it in the back parking lot. With the kids in the balcony who were strongly urged to attend by West Band Director Brady Krusemark, we could have had a humble little cheering section rooting us on.
St. Olaf's band was amazing. And I don't use that word lightly. If you're the kind of person that truly appreciates music, you would have loved this concert. Alas ... hardly anyone showed.
Obviously, that's not the only band concert that takes place in town. Several times each year, the Mankato West concert and symphonic bands play, as well as the band from Dakota Meadows Middle School. Across town, the East bands play in their auditorium. The musicians on the east side of town are just as good as the musicians on the west side of town. And let's not forget Loyola, and Immanuel Lutheran, and all the other schools in the region. All have great music programs, all have great musicians.
But when it comes time to play for the community, the community that shows up is generally the parents of the kids on stage. And I get that, too. Most youth sporting events that take place in this town are attended by the parents of the kids playing.
I've been to my share of football games and basketball games. It's great to see the stands full of people at those games and it's obvious the fans in the stands aren't just the parents of players. It's the community, too, which rightfully comes to see our kids performing at a high level.
We've been running articles in the paper lately about the high school athletes who are making decisions about where they'll play college soccer or football or hockey. Which is fantastic. It's great to see kids excel to a degree that will allow them to continue competing at the college level.
Did you know we have musicians who have been making those same decisions based on their ability to play a trumpet, or flute, or a clarinet, or a tuba, or a saxophone? We do. And they're every bit as accomplished in what they do as the kids on the football field or basketball court.
I will continue to go to football games. What I'm suggesting is that people who haven't been a band concert should check one out. You're missing out by not experiencing our talented musicians.