As many of you know, the 2014-2015 school year was AMP’s fifth year of programming. For this special milestone we wanted to create something special for our students who spend so many hours patiently honing their musical craft at AMP, while many of their peers are out having fun. We wanted to do something that would validate their sacrifice and dedication and let them know it was worth it. The idea we came up with was to spend our fifth year performing several joint concerts with the region’s best youth music ensembles.
Most of our students still have a ways to go before they’re playing on the level of the region’s best young musicians, however, among students their own age, they can certainly hold their own. Our hope was that the chance to perform with some of the best young student musicians would help our students make a few important discoveries (list provided after the jump):
1) “I’m not alone.” No you’re not! There are plenty of kids from all backgrounds who love music and spend many hours practicing and performing to become the best they can be, just like AMP students.
2) “I can do this at a high level.” When our students perform alongside the principal players of the Atlanta Youth Wind Symphony, for example, this allows them to comprehend that that level of excellence is within their reach, if they continue with AMP and practice hard.
3) “I’m still a long way away from being the best.” This is perhaps the realization that is the most important. While our students’ musical progress is coming along very well, they are not yet at the standard that we at AMP are holding them to. We want our students to aim to become the best there is. Period. Now, whether they get that far is less of a concern. What’s most important to us are the skills they will develop through their pursuit of musical excellence. There’s nothing like a child realizing for themselves that they have a lot more work to do before they are top level student musicians. I’m not saying this to discourage or disparage our students. Trust me, our kids can play. However, if our students can become even more self-motivated because they sat next to a musical whiz kid for a joint concert, that is worth more than anything we at AMP can teach them.
As for me, one of the best things about our celebratory fifth year of joint concerts was that I finally got to see AMP students sitting on the stage performing with kids from other parts of the Atlanta region. The kids and parents from the other youth groups couldn’t have been nicer and more welcoming to our students and parents. Some of them even came to AMP concerts afterwards!
In Atlanta’s not-too-distant past there is certainly history of segregation, separation and irritation between different racial groups and different parts of the region. However when it comes to kids playing music, I don’t see any of that stuff. When it comes to bringing communities together, there’s nothing better than music!