Last Tuesday, at Fox Lane High School, the Bedford Schools presented its first ever district wide performance of Band Music, covering all seven schools from elementary school age to high school. Aside from putting the entire evening under one roof, the event featured an even more interesting difference for parents, staff and students.
Dedicated to retired music teachers Joe Murphy, Marylin Leslie and Stan Karasick, “Band-tastic” was not broken down by age groups and allowed the elementary school musicians to sit in on stage at the same time with their older peers. “It’s very exciting for the little kids because they get to sit next to the older students who are much more proficient,” said Dr. Paul Tooker, Fox Lane High School conductor of the Symphonic Band.
Bedford parent Rob Rauch was able to confirm the excitement of his 11 year old son Jacob. Furthermore, Mr. Rauch appreciated how the venue gave his drummer son a view to the future through the chops of high school musicians. “It shows them where they can go and allows him to see music beyond just lessons,” he said.
From his position of musical influence, Dr. Tooker agrees with Mr. Rauch. “We’re hoping to raise awareness – especially with the younger students so they understand that if they stay with their band instruments over the course of many years, this is the result,” he said.
From all accounts, with the successful sounds in hand, they seemed to get it, and the child-like exuberance was clearly evident – even in the cases where there was not a child in question. Hardly able to make her own feelings audible, Mt. Kisco Elementary School Principal Susan Ostrofsky said, “I’m busting with pride,” giving proper credit to the students and music teacher, Alyssa Verheyn.
Dr. Tooker spoke for what the elementary school music teachers probably feel at an event like this. “I think the thrill is they are watching the students that they started with years and years ago and to see them continue and improve,” he said, “I’m sure that means a lot to them.”
For himself, after the months of preparation, Dr. Tooker prefers to point out the diversity among the students and their ability to make it work in spite of all the differences. “It’s just amazing that so any kids with so many personalities and interests can come together, and for the common good, put together a piece of music,” he said.
Retired music teacher Marylin Leslie sees that common good in a bigger sense. “You’re responsible for your performance,” she said, and success in a musical or artistic production builds community in and out of school, she added.
Beyond the music, Stan Karasick pointed out what the hard work indicates to the individual in a team effort like Band-tastic. “It’s a life lesson. What you get out of it is not just a performance but what it takes to be a success.”
From that perspective, Ms. Leslie could directly testify to the effect that music instruction in Bedford had on her three daughters. Two special education teachers and a physical therapist, she said, “My daughters felt it gave them a much more balanced education.”
For most, that is the case, according again to Dr. Tooker, and ending up with a protégé performing nightly at the New York Philharmonic is not necessarily a teacher’s main motivation. “As long as they have a lifelong interest in music,” he concludes that he’s satisfied with that.
Rich Monetti coverage of event with Dr. Paul Tooker, Rob Rauch, Susan Ostrofsky, Marylin Leslie and Stan Karasick