As the first day of Summer Break begins, I am sitting here listening to the soundtrack of "Rent" and reflecting back on our year together while sipping, you guessed it, a nice cup of coffee. This year has been an amazing year for our classroom with fantastic performances, engaging rehearsals, and lots of musical growth for all of our students and ensembles. As I make the graduation party rounds (and I'm so sorry when my kids nap/activity schedules prevent me from coming to them!), one of the most common things people talk to me about is that our classroom provides a relief from an otherwise stressful day. Our students arrive ready to learn, excited to make music, and looking forward to building friendships through music. Bringing together students from diverse backgrounds and social circles to work towards a common artistic and aesthetic goal is where the magic happens and as our students leave our classroom, the lessons and problem solving skills they learn here will serve them well for years to come.
This year, with your generous financial support, we supported our two guest artists in residence, Mr. Greg Lewis (Jazz 1 conductor) and Mr. Adam Randall (drum line coach), purchased ten new pieces of music, a new set of marching percussion instruments, two bass clarinets, one alto flute, one alto saxophone, one tuba, and supported students through scholarships for private lessons, our trip to Nashville, and reeds. The Performing Arts Committee, under the leadership of Leandra Peak, helped in a number of ways, both financially and through volunteering at our various events. Next year, the organization will be under the leadership of Carrie Voda and Annika Crosby and we look forward to another fantastic year of support. We SOOOO appreciate your work and support. For 2017-18, I am planning on purchasing two new cellos, two new violas, and a new marimba along with continuing to diversify our music library.
We measure our year and our progress in musical growth. Our ensembles performed at a higher level this year with many concert highlights. Who could forget the Symphonic Band's performance of Foundry by John Mackey with all fifteen percussion parts or the String Orchestra performing Bach's Brandenburg Concerto No. 4 - III without a conductor? This year's Basilica concert was a highlight for Wind Ensemble and Chamber Orchestra with their performances of Steve Reisteter's Eighth Candle and Ralph Vaughan Williams' Five Variants on 'Dives and Lazarus.' The Jazz Ensembles had a wonderful spring concert at the Lake Harriet Bandshell under the leadership of Mr. Needleman and Mr. Lewis with memorized jazz combo tunes and strong big band performances. The Sweet Charity Pit Orchestra once again earned an "Outstanding Student Orchestra" Award from the Hennepin Theatre Trust. Our trip to Nashville capped off the year with a great high school exchange with JPII High School, fantastic master classes, experiencing the rich cultural heritage, and the amazing riverboat cruise.
Perhaps our greatest success however is having a graduating senior class that includes such a high number of students who will be playing next year in college. The true measure of any program is how well it lives up to it's mission. Our mission is to promote life-long music making for all students. The class of 2017 understands the importance of playing an instrument, whether it is for a major, a minor or just for fun. And this brings us back to the core of who we are and why we do what we do. Each student who comes to our classroom experiences music in a unique way, but all of them find instrumental music to be a stressless moment in their otherwise chaotic and busy days.
In addition to relaxing and spending time with my family, I will be taking a course on using digital portfolios in the classroom. This will help me to better understand how to effectively utilize portfolios for students to demonstrate their own musical growth as well as that of their ensemble. In late July I will be attending the Total Band/Orchestra Director's Workshop, a two-day intensive course designed to inspire new ideas in the music classroom. We will be spending a lot of time around South Minneapolis and up at the cabin in Boulder Junction, WI, including a week with the Australian side of my family.
Have a wonderful summer, keep practicing and recharge those batteries for the 2017-18 school year.
With great appreciation, Reid Wixson
ps - we've moved from the Strider Bike to a real pedal bike for D and we're days away from having a second walker in the house! It'll be a summer full of motion for us all here at the Wixson household
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