Tuesday, June 16, 2009 • Westwood band students perform end of year concert

The Spring Band Concert held at the Fletcher Walker Elementary multi-purpose room Thursday evening, June 4, reflected a year’s worth of progress and effort for the participating students.

Three students received awards. Evan Marland and Sonia Melendrez were given the Directors Award by band instructor Michael Bergin. Lynsey Hinze-Buff received the John Philip Sousa Award. All three are graduating seniors.

Fourth-grader Sarah Chapin played “Ode to Joy” by Beethoven on her recorder. She was given the honor of performing a solo because she learned all nine musical numbers required during the school year to earn a “black belt” in music. For each musical arrangement learned on the recorder in fourth-grade a student is given a ribbon signifying the colors of the belts earned in karate. Chapin was the only fourth-grade student to participate in the concert.

As usual Bergin drew the audience members into the performance. During an arrangement by the Advanced Band titled “Falling Rain” he asked that the audience hold their hands in the air and snap their fingers when he pointed at them to create the sound of rain. The effect was much like turning a rain stick over, which is a percussion instrument made from the wood skeleton of a cactus and filled with small pebbles, beans or rice.

During the performance of the sixth-grade band members, Adele Emershaw, the principal at Fletcher Walker Elementary, was asked to participate as the guest conductor for “Popcorn Prelude.” As the piece is played musicians stand up and sit down grouped according to the instrument they play. The result is that groups of musicians pop up and down throughout the number, much like popcorn.

Bergin told Emershaw that she must turn to the audience and state the name of the instruments played by the musicians standing, which caused the activity to become quite frenzied.

Several members of the advanced band provided support for the sixth-graders, which is a small band. Advanced band members are students in seventh through 12th-grade.

In the past students have received a band instrument in fifth-grade, but next year all elementary students below seventh-grade will study music as part of their classroom curriculum. Art will be taught by classroom teachers as well. Bergin told parents he would make sure that teachers continue to provide lessons on both music and art within the classrooms. Art instructor Jacquie Cordova is retiring this year and the district will not hire a replacement.

In spite of budget cutbacks and shrinking enrollment, music within the Westwood School District continues to thrive. Bergin said that after the Westwood advanced band performed at the Region 5 Music Festival this year one of the judges followed them out to the van to tell Bergin the students should be proud of their ability and accomplishments.

The band did a variety of musical arrangements. They played a marching band number titled “Louis, Louis” and a piece that featured the percussion section titled “Moscow 1941.” Bergin said the number was written as a memorial to the soldiers that fought the invading Nazi Germany army and the percussion was meant to sound similar to exploding bombs.

Before the band played “Na Na Na Hey Hey Goodbye” Bergin asked Coach Scott Kelly what fans sing when their team is badly beating an opposing team? Kelly sang a few lines of the song demonstrating his good sportsmanship.

The concert ended with “Black Forest Overture,” the piece the band played for the judges at the Region 5 Music Festival.