The concert was one of the fringe benefits of staying with the grandkids for a couple of days. It's been so long since I attended one that had almost forgotten how much fun an elementary school Christmas program could be. (Oops—excuse me—holiday program—just a momentary slip into political incorrectness there.)
This particular performance featured the fourth and fifth grade band, orchestra, and chorus. Unfortunately, then, we missed some of the classic school program highlights: first-graders waving enthusiastically at Mom and Dad, second-graders forgetting to sing, and kindergarteners picking their noses or making wardrobe adjustments in the front row.
Still, there was plenty to enjoy. For one thing, we got a glimpse "backstage," as it were, being entertained before the performance by the necessary preliminaries. Girls—decked out in party dresses, shiny shoes, and hair ornaments—admired one another's outfits, giggled, and whispered. Boys—decked out in clean shirts—did their best to look cool and blasé instead of scared to death. Kids held their instruments high and flashed brace-enhanced grins while proud parents took pictures. Rows of violins and violas lined up for tuning up by the orchestra teacher.
Then the show was on. The first number by the band, all of whom had just begun learning their instruments at the start of this school year, was "Hot Cross Buns." I remember it well from back in the days when my kids were starting school band; evidently the curriculum hasn't changed much. Then came the obligatory "Jingle Bells." It was note-perfect, with four rows of fourth- and fifth-grade feet tapping in precise if slightly ponderous rhythm.
Half a dozen of the band kids had the unbelievable self-confidence to perform solos. One of them was a tall, slender girl with elegant cheekbones and a serious expression who played "My Favorite Things" on the marimba. Making a couple of mistakes didn't set her back; she kept her focus, finished with a flourish, and finally gave us a big smile that appeared to be a mixture of triumph and relief.
Next up was the chorus, whose members were in tune, polished, and obviously enjoying themselves. At the finale of their featured number, something called "Christmas Sock Rock," each kid tossed a pair of socks into the air and let them land helter-skelter in front of the stage. Their skill at this was hardly surprising, since no doubt all of them had practiced it at home for years.
The fourth-grade orchestra, beginners all, were naturally a little wobbly about the high notes. They all, however, were intent on their music and taking their instrumental responsibilities quite seriously.
I was pleased to note that both my granddaughter the violist and my granddaughter the violinist were among the most focused. That probably means more concerts in their future—and, if I'm lucky, in mine.