Notes From My Knapsack 2-11-16
Sounds Overheard, All Around the Halls
Imagine walking down a classroom corridor, hearing over the modulated hubbub of the hallway the sound of voices raised in song, singly and in groups, in English, yes, but also Italian and French and German and Latin.
You hear pieces and parts more clearly through some doors, safely closed during performance, than you do others; some vocalists are stronger, others softer, occasionally it's an ensemble or group of some sort singing.
On into a different section of the building, or the floor below, and it's instrumentalists at work: woodwind and brass and percussion, strings and keyboards, steel drum groups, clarinet choirs, and orchestral assemblies. Keep moving and you'll hear a fast run of notes, up deliberately then down just as carefully, yet a few steps further on a slow and stately sonata unfurls.
You can come upon a stretch of warm-up rooms with a manic charge of scales or arpeggios in the air, or just see a small mountain of instrument cases piled with coats on top, a formally dressed student sound asleep on the tiles before it, as if exhausted with having climbed or built it.
Stop and sit yourself, whether on a precious empty chair or bold enough to plop onto the floor, and watch them stride briskly by, tuxedos and formals and a wide variety of black tights, sweaters, jackets, scarves, with just enough jolts of color to remind you these are teenagers under the very professional exteriors.
Some look stern, many are laughing, not a few are gazing without focus before them (look out!) as they hum softly and rap a rhythm on their thigh as they walk.
You also see a fair number of parents, often obvious as they walk along with their maturing child, young person, youthful adult; the faces and forms echoing across generations to show you how one looked younger and in what ways the other is likely to age.
There is an event like this every winter that often takes place right here in Granville.
A couple of years ago, it got snowed out, but generally, they plow on. Friday night and Saturday, in late January, the Ohio Music Educators Association holds a Solo and Ensemble "adjudicated event" in this district, and the music programs of Granville Middle and High Schools along with the Music Boosters are delighted to host.
Thousands of singers and players, well over a dozen high schools from across east central Ohio, hundreds of parents, chaperones, and those indispensable band and choir and orchestra teachers all ramble the length of GHS & GMS, and you rarely get to know just what an extended sprawl of a building complex we have until your own child has six different performances on a Saturday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm.
Your strength will keep up, thanks to the wonders of the Music Boosters' kitchen in the concession area next to the Commons (huzzah for shredded chicken sandwiches!); and the Commons are bustling and electric all the live-long day.
Across the walls, the large sheets of flipchart paper, ruled in magic marker and names and performance levels pre-written – it is ultimately onto these the proctors, students themselves, come to write from the judges' sides (they being music educators themselves, but from outside our area, all skilled and helpful, but somewhat stiff and grim in their adjudicating role).
The latest set of scores is carefully written in, and from the crowd which quickly gathers behind the proctor, there are moans, or cheers, or just a happy laugh.
It is a day like no other for the music students of our community, and for those adults privileged to watch and listen alongside.
Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and pastor in Licking County; tell him about the song in your heart at email@example.com or follow @Knapsack on Twitter.