Music is a global language. As the saying goes, “When words fail, music speaks,” and music spoke at the Francis Howell School District (FHSD) Middle School Honor Band and Choir Performance on March 30. The statement made was that nothing brings a community together like music.
The performance involved teachers and students from throughout the District, and each of the band and choir directors at the five FHSD middle schools had a part in the planning, preparation, and execution of the event. Because of that, the gymnasium at host Saeger Middle School was packed full of anxious ears, from measure to measure.
Shannon Crepps, the Band Director at Saeger, said, “It is wonderful to see such support for our music programs in Francis Howell. Our parents and family members are always supportive of their students’ musical endeavors, and it is obvious when you have a crowd of that size at your concert that these students have a lot of people caring for them. We also greatly appreciate our administrators at the building and District level who were able to attend as well!”
The performance involved the best of the best when it comes to band and choir students in the District. Members of the FHSD Honor Band and Choir were nominated by each school, providing an opportunity to work with other students with similar skill sets. “This event is a unique experience for our band and choir students who are nominated,” Crepps said, “because it allows them to experience making music with students from all four other middle schools. They meet and learn to work with a new set of people, director included, all in one day!”
March was “Music in Our School Month,” and there are few better ways to celebrate it than by getting the community together for an evening of music, bridging the gap between the musicians of today and the musicians of tomorrow. “This event is appropriate and special,” Crepps said, “because it shows our students that there are so many people in their communities, cities, state, and around the country, who value music and music-making just as much as they do.”
Outside clinicians assisted the directors to help enhance the learning experience for the students, an opportunity for both students and teachers to improve their craft. Caren Gado, who trained in Sweden, was the guest choir clinician. Gado currently teaches at Hixson Middle School, and has sung with the Bach Society of St. Louis for 15 years. Katheryn Fenske was the guest band clinician; she has more than 30 years of experience in music education, and is currently the vice-president of the St. Louis Metro District Eight High School Concert Band. She teaches at DuBray Middle School.
Crepps explained, “We bring in outside clinicians to work with our students for this event because it is a great opportunity to expand their musical knowledge. Learning from someone other than his or her own band or choir director for the day is a valuable experience. They may learn something completely new, or an old concept may become clearer simply because of the way the clinician asks them to think about it or teaches it.”
Whether you were from outside or inside FHSD, harmony was a key signature to the evening. It was a community coming together in celebration of the one thing we can all agree on – that music is the education of the soul.