As I sit down to write, the rain trickles down my office window and I have a nice cup of hot tea while the two kids take naps upstairs. Hopefully this vibe foreshadows a relaxing summer ahead for the Wixson family as it has been a trying and busy last few months of the school year. I write here to celebrate our successes this year and look back upon the moments that struck me.
A common theme this school year has been the weather - whether it was cold or rainy or snowy, the weather affected us all this school year. We had to cut short a football game pep band performance due to rain, we had to reschedule the February concert three times due to cold days, we barely made it to St. Louis due to the icy roads, and we finished our spring by hosting the Bandshell Pops Concert indoors for the second year in a row. Through it all, the motto in the classroom was "Flexible and Cheerful." But the weather had indirect consequences as well. The orchestra for Beauty and the Beast rushed to learn and rehearse with the lost preparation time, the small ensemble projects had to be curtailed immensely, and the timeline for learning music for the April tour was cut by almost two weeks. And yet, through it all, we rallied together and rose to the occasion. Dealing with adversity and making adjustments became the norm and these skills will serve us well in the future.
The biggest change we felt at the end of the school year was the addition of the Concert Band class at the expense of the IB Music course. This programmatic change will surely effect how the room feels and as the years progress we will continue to adjust the curriculum to maximize student musical learning. For more on that, please read my announcement here. As with all changes, issues and conflicts will arise that we did not foresee so please do let me know if anything does not seem to be working as well as it should be.
This year saw the single largest donation that we have ever had in our program - a generous gift from Mr. Harvey Feldman that funded the purchase of $25,000 worth of instruments. With these funds we purchased two sousaphones, one double horn, one euphonium, one bass trombone, five flutes, six clarinets and five trumpets. One reason we chose these instruments to fund was because our current inventory for them had many instruments beyond repair.
The other major donation - from Hot Notes, our Burning Desire - project will be to replace our current instrument storage system. The implementation of this project will take two or three school years to complete and includes financial support from the district in addition to the Performing Arts Boosters. The final product will see a highly efficient, visually appealing, and safe instrument storage system spread out around the main rehearsal space as well as my office to enhance traffic flow into and out of our classroom.
As our ensembles progressed through the school year, we heard considerable improvement from all. We also had the amazing opportunity to host musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra, the Mill City String Quartet and the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra to help coach and inspire our students. I will certainly never forget hearing the Minnesota Orchestra Woodwind Quintet perform a short recital for our Wind Ensemble. And who could forget our amazing array of guest conductors this year including Tim Mahr (St. Olaf College), James Miller (Gustavus Adolphus College), Kevin Sutterlin (Concordia College), Gary Wolfman (GTCYS), Jeff Barudin (Lindenwood University - St. Louis), and Matt Hoorman (Lindenwood University - St. Louis). Our classroom and my teaching continue to be enriched by the presence of these fine musician educators.
Looking ahead, this summer I will spend considerable time working through the change in culture for having three band classes. I will also continue to delve into the portfolio-based assessment which was implemented this year in Symphonic Band primarily and tweak the system and work to implement it across the entire department next year. I will also spend a LOT of time back up at the cabin with my family to recharge and relax.
I wish you all the best and I thank you for yet another spectacular year in Instrumental Music. Please enjoy the pictures below that celebrate our year together.
With great appreciation, Reid Wixson June 11, 2019
(L-R) Zoe B (winner of the John Philip Sousa Award), Mr. Wixson, and Dylan K (winner of the National Orchestra Directors Awards)
The Minnesota Orchestra Woodwind Quintet performs for Wind Ensemble
BLAST Day - Symphonic Band serenades the Guidance Office
A breezy and memorable Wind Ensemble concert under the Gateway Arch
Accidental twinning in String Orchestra with the retro SW Orchestra shirts!
A gorgeous sunny day at the MN State Fair
Composer-Conductor Isadora W. with Chamber Orchestra
Jazz One represents at the UMSL Jazz Festival
Parades, Performances, Events and More!
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