Surviving the Musical Days of Your Life
by Jason and Jenna Day
The last note ends.
The conductor slowly lowers his arms.
The audience breaks into applause.
Soon all are standing; audience and performers.
I focus on their faces.
Not the audience, those on stage.
I see smiles, but not just any kind of smile.
Smiles of pure joy, of pride in their accomplishment. Grinning now from ear to ear, looking for familiar faces in the audience, blinking into the bright stage lights and grinning.
Recently, my oldest son had the opportunity to play flute in our district wind ensemble. We have attended countless concerts. But after this concert, while the youth stood on the stage…that was when I really noticed the grins.
MUSIC IS AN INTEGRAL PART OF OUR LIVES
Music to me is like breathing.
I don’t get tired of breathing.
I don’t get tired of music.
Currently three of our four children are in school music programs. And all take private lessons on their instruments. We’ve spent months attending district band concerts, pre-assessment concerts, all-state auditions and filling out forms for solo and ensemble festivals. We are a busy family and the music takes a lot of work. But we do it. We do it for the amazing experiences it gives our children.
The world of music auditions on any level can be overwhelming. For those whose child has chosen to participate here are a few tips:
- Be realistic. With help from your child’s teacher, choose music within your child’s comfort zone. Sometimes being in the top ensemble is not the best place for your child to learn technique and progress.
- Proper practice is important. Distractions such as fatigue, hunger and time of day make it hard for a child to focus or get motivated.
- Everyone is human. There are going to be mistakes, missed notes and bad days. This is all part of life and learning.
- Enjoy the moment. We are all busy. When you sit outside the audition room, take a deep breath and listen to your child. When the performance starts, enjoy the music, enjoy the moment.
MUSIC TEACHES CHILDREN LIFE SKILLS
Music at school allows children the unique opportunity to audition and perform at various levels. Our fourth grade daughter at her first solo and ensemble festival and our oldest son at his second all-state audition both learn the same skills, even if they are on different levels:
“You prepare hours for seven minutes. With detailed oriented practice you go over every phrase, every measure and every beat. You walk into the room for your audition. A voice from behind the screen advises you what is to be played. Then it is all up to you. All the hours of practice, the phrasing, the technicality of the piece all come together for the next seven minutes. It begins with a deep breath. You begin to play and your previous efforts are exposed.” (Jason Day)
Cause and effect is how children learn to interact in their environment. Understanding this helps develop problem-solving skills and other skills to survive in the world:
“As I have watched my two sons prepare for their orchestra and band auditions, I have seen the dedication and sacrifice they have. I listened to many hours of late night practicing, going over the same four measures of music.”
“The first time they auditioned for their district, it was a great learning moment. While neither one of them placed their first time, they felt good about the audition. As we discussed their experiences, they realized how much work they needed to do to be ready for such an event. When the next time came around, they were better prepared. These life lessons go far beyond music. Even giving it your all, sometimes your audition does not turn out the way you hoped. However, if you know you have worked hard, then you have no regrets.” (Jason Day)
MUSIC PROVIDES LASTING FRIENDSHIPS AND MEMORIES
“Teaching music is not my main purpose. I want to make good citizens. If children hear fine music from the day of their birth, and learn to play it, they develop sensitivity, discipline and endurance. They get a beautiful heart.”
Dr. Sinichi Suzuki
Music lessons, whether private, in a group or in a school class, gives a child focus and direction. Countless studies have shown the benefits of music in a child’s life. Our four children have benefitted greatly from their school music classes. They enjoy a positive peer group, do homework and eat lunch together, discuss composers, etudes, and performances along with the latest social trends and regular teenage gossip. They get excited when they attend an event on a higher level and see friends from previous performances. They give each other high fives for a job well done and hugs when the results were not what they had hoped.
At the last all-state audition, my son and his friend stood arm in arm as the results were being posted. Smiles, hugs and high fives were given when they found they would sit together at the performance. Placement didn’t matter as much as being able to perform with your good friend. And in the end, standing on stage with your friends and being acknowledged for a job well done by people who love and support you is one of the best feelings a child can experience…and it will make them grin ear to ear!
About the authors:
Jason began playing violin at age four. During high school he played with the American Youth Philharmonic and was a National Symphony Youth Fellow. During college, he won numerous concerto competitions and awards finally graduating from Kent State University in Violin Performance.
Returning to Washington D.C., he served as the assistant principal second in the Fairfax Symphony, played in the McLean, Alexandria and Washington Metropolitan Symphony Orchestras and performed both at the Kennedy Center and the White House. Jason’s violist father played in the United States Army Strings for 30 years. His mother played flute in the Utah Symphony and is a co-director of the Suzuki Flute Institute in the Washington D.C. area. His two sisters, a flutist and cellist complete the Day Family Chamber Players, which performs on a regular basis in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area.
Jason currently work s as the Middle and Upper School Orchestra Director at The Flint Hill School in Oakton, Virginia. He maintains a large private studio of violin/viola students. He has also worked as an orchestra director in Fairfax County, a teacher at The Levine School of Music and spent many summers teaching at The Franklin Music Camp.
His passion for music and good quality instruments led him to start Day Violins LLC. After eight years Day Violins opened its doors as a full service string shop in Chantilly, Virginia which allows him to interact daily with music educators, private teachers, students and parents. Day Violins believes in giving back to the community and was recently awarded The American String Teachers Association Distinguished Service Award. Day Violins is also involved with Instruments in the Attic, a program refurbishing donated instruments and distributing them to schools, communities and countries where children would otherwise not have musical experience.
Jenna grew up with singing around the piano with her Mom and siblings and around the campfire while her Dad played the ukulele.
During high school she accompanied various choirs, groups and individuals. She also sang in choirs and musical groups. She has spent many years serving as a children’s musical director in her church.
As a former Child Protective Service Worker, she is passionate about giving children the opportunity to explore music. She also holds a degree in Gerontology and has worked extensively with the elderly population in a variety of settings, including music therapy. For many years she incorporated music as a Hospice volunteer. Jenna is a firm believer that music can touch the soul when words cannot.
In addition to working for Day Violins LLC, much of Jenna’s daily efforts are spent as a mother to her four children – where one of the primary undertakings is helping her own children explore and develop their musical talents. She serves on the Advisory Board of the Potomac Arts Academy. In her spare time, she runs Jenna Day Designs, doing calligraphy, floral design, event planning and craft projects.
Learn about the 2015 NAfME All-National Honor Ensembles
The AUDITION SITE IS OPEN! All applications must be completed by midnight eastern time on May 8, 2015.
Click here to begin the process.
The event will take place at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Conference Center from October 25 – 28, 2015.
Kristen Rencher Nuss, Social Media Coordinator. March 30, 2015. © National Association for Music Education (NAfME.org)