Thursday, May 6, 2010

Tour Mission 1...Make First Contact

By Mark T. Burke (while on Tour with the Lycoming College Concert Band)

Instrumental Shuttle Pilot's log, star date 201005.04.  Day one of our mission was completed with positive results.  Our goal was to make first contact with several colonies in Lycoming County, PA who have showed early interest in musical endeavors.  The colonies consisted of mostly young students from two schools in the region.

Our first encounter included hearing several inhabitants of Montoursville High School performing music during what they call "homeroom."  The experience included several compositions, 1 being Brazilian in nature while the other a contemporary composition entitled "Choreography."  One of the natives joined our "away team" for a performance, giving me the opportunity to communicate with him directly.  We've agree to continue peaceful, musical conversations to help this particular student further develop his performance skills on an instrument called the Saxophone.

Our second meeting was more diplomatic in nature.  The entire community from St. John Neuman arrived to hear our performance. Our Captain, Dr. William Ciabattari was the universal translator on this mission, ensuring our message was understood, or at least heard through their native tongue.  Their Admiral graciously thanked us for our contribution and encouraged the inhabitants to further their knowledge of the musical offerings of our central office, located at Lycoming College in Williamsport.

End personal log.

This week, the entire viaAcademies team was on tour with Dr. Ciabattari and the Lycoming College Concert Band.  My experience from day 1 helps explain why outreach concerts are so, so important today.  I had the opportunity to connect with a young saxophone student.  Within just a few hours of the performance, the groundwork has been laid for a summer Saxophone Workshop for him and a few other student saxophonists.  We can reach kids in concerts, but having the chance to interact with them ensures music instructors can really make a big difference.  This tour also reminded me that instrumental music teachers should take every opportunity to ensure their students are exposed to music and other musicians.  There are countless examples of students with musical goals that may go unrealized by never having been connected to other resources outside a school.  I believe it is imperative that young musicians understand one person and one school can not supply their total music experience.  This tour has confirmed for me that teaching kids music takes a collaborative village of people, teachers and resources.

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