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High School and Middle School Band Programs Team Up To Entertain the Community

The 5th Annual Jazz & Crab Feed united 330 guests and their love of jazz music performed by student musicians.

On Friday, February 1, the Clock Tower was filled to capacity with guests who look forward each year to one of the top fundraisers for the middle school and high school band programs. 

Along with all-you-can-eat crab, the evening reminded one of stepping into a dinner club of the past.  Complete with refined attire and shining brass, the elegant orchestra staging alluded to an era where upbeat music wove its way through dinner conversation, making it difficult to sit still.  Besides just the top-notch jazz music, there was a silent undertone of symbolism running through the evening.  

All music was live, provided by the jazz bands from the middle and high schools.  Since most of the high school families ‘graduated’ from the middle school band program, there were reminders everywhere of beginnings and endings, and mostly, a precious shared legacy.

For instance, Mr. Glenn Walp, who is the Music Director at the middle school, had two jobs that night.  His main duty was to conduct his student jazz band.  But it was his second job that kept him hopping.  He filled in as keyboardist for the high school, under the musical direction of Mr. Patrick Martin.  As the bands alternated their performances, Mr. Walp would conduct the middle school band in one area, and then dash over the stage to the high school band.  There, he would read music he had not seen until that moment, and accompany the band on his keyboard.  This pattern lasted for almost four hours. 

Several parents, especially Victoria Schneider, were struck by this physical embodiment of what the band programs are all about.   She noticed how he represented the whole purpose of the evening, which was the feeling that both programs share so much together, including long history and many memories.  “It isn’t just anyone who can step into an established band at the last minute, and be accepted.  But these high school kids always have a place for Mr. Walp, so that he can just seamlessly join them.”  He is part of them even when they move on to the high school, and his presence reconnects them to their middle school roots.

In fact, when the high school band was asked how they did that night, one member replied, “We were really happy with how we performed.  We sounded so much better than we did during some practices.”  When asked what magical thing happened that night, one musician said, “Mr. Walp happened,” referring to his keyboard work. 

The music was polished and ‘spot-on’ for both groups.  In fact, one of the security guards thought he was hearing a piped-in recording from a CD. When told it was indeed a live band comprised of school students, he entered the hall to see for himself.  He told parent Bryan Haynes he was in disbelief.

Nights like this are the result of hundreds of hours of preparation by the musicians as well as the parents and volunteers. It is such a large event, that two chairpersons are needed.  Leslie Blackie represented the high school, and Erin Biber represented the middle school. Prior to that night, there was heavy student and parent involvement which began in the early fall planning stages.  During the event, there was also a significant presence throughout set-up, serving and clean-up.  The younger students were paired with older students, bonding the two school programs which allows smooth transitions as they pass through the school years.  Younger band siblings were also assigned jobs. 

Leslie Blackie was so moved by the big picture of the night.  “The younger siblings aren’t even in band yet, but they are part of the band family.”  She was struck by several key moments of the evening.  One was when the high school band gave an ovation to the middle school 6th grade drummer after his solo.  Another was how the middle school musicians would run over to throw tips in the bucket after the high school played, with the favor being returned by the high school. 

This is why she is involved in this event, and why so many parents put in large amounts of time.  Both band directors foster many life-skills in their programs.  Not only is music the great unifier, but band programs provide so many gifts beyond music which are felt throughout an entire lifetime.

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Dalt Williams February 08, 2013 at 05:08 PM
It is so great to see this program continue to grow....I'm so happy for the BMS & BHS bands. "Back in the day" we ( BHS Jazz Band ) presented the "Nostalgia Dance" at the Clocktower (a fund raiser for the BHS band).
Babaloo February 08, 2013 at 11:11 PM
how about entertain at the HIgh School football games instead of taking up alot of the good seats.. ?
Leslie Blackie February 08, 2013 at 11:53 PM
Babaloo - I am unclear on what you mean by entertain at the High School Football games? The band plays at every home game - they have specific music that is played for kick off, touchdown, 2 minute warning, as well as first and third downs. The band also plays between the quarters and at the half after the cheerleaders do their dance. The students are on their feet and are cheering throughout the game. At homecoming they also present a halftime show as well as form an honor corridor for the presentation of the senior court. If your question is "why not perform a field show at every home game" that is a different question. Benicia's band is a parade band and competes at band reviews in parades, as well as contributing to home town spirit by marching in the Christmas parade, homecoming parade and last year the welcome home veterans parade. Field show bands are a different style of competition, (just like jazz and classical music are different types of music). It is certainly an important question to ask, but one that would get a more complete answer if you asked the band director and the highschool administration.
Karen LaRiviere February 09, 2013 at 04:53 AM
Thanks Sheri for sharing the amazing accomplishments with everyone in town who may not be aware of these real "jewels" of the school district. So much goes into these programs from top to bottom and the kids are amazingly talented. And thanks Leslie for setting the record straight for the less informed ;). Great job to all.
Babaloo February 11, 2013 at 04:21 AM
it was clear. maybe a half time show would be more appropriate instead of just playing. yes entertain the "fans"... put some effort into it. instead of taking up the good seat..all painted nice and pretty segregating themselves from the rest of the fans. maybe there should be a special area in the end zone where the band can play. or maybe on the end there where you come in the bleachers there would be fabulous for the band,,the accoustics there,,greeting everyone when they come in so the sweet sounds ...think of it,,it would be fabulous...really ought to think about this one...or maybe accross the field on the other sie,,,that would be even better...there to entertain the opposing teams fans...oh,,,imagine the opportunities...
DJE February 20, 2013 at 06:40 PM
Wow, Babaloo......nice to see the support (or lack of) you have for our high school music programs. The band kids work harder than just about any other organization on that campus. The 'good seats' are a gesture the football staff and athletic director give the band for giving up their time and energy to cheer on the team. In fact on most Friday nights they are the last to leave the game (wim or lose) and usually have a competition early on Saturday morning. So I think it is the least they deserve. They also need to be in a stable section of the stands due to the very expensive instruments they work with. They need the ability to see what is going on during the game to know which music to play when. As a parent of a football player, I think the games are much better when the band is there. They are the MOST spirited part of our game. And I am sure if you ask ANY of the football players, they would all say the same thing. It pumps them up! The band gets NOTHING in exchange for playing. And on a side note, you should know that our marching band was undefeated for 2 full seasons! They are respected throughout the music community and bring much honor and recognition to our High School. They have marched in the NYC St Patrick's Day Parade, Walt Disney World and the Rose Parade. All of which have to be auditioned for. I personally am very proud of our band kids and what they do for our community!
"The Black Panther of Poetry" February 20, 2013 at 09:15 PM
4. babaloo In jamaican slang means stupid "hey babaloo watch your driving , you almost crashed". Babaloo is a common term for irrational behavior

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