Wednesday, May 20, 2015

About New Philharmonic Orchestra, Music & Schools

Last week I happened to win tickets for a performance by New Philharmonic Orchestra of Irving. The tickets were sponsored by WRR101.1, one of our favorite local radio station.  I was quite excited about the winning - we neither had heard the Orchestra play before nor had been to The Irving Arts Center, where the event was to take place. All in all, we were hoping to have a good time.
When we arrived  there on Sunday, we found the Arts Center to be quite a nice and large venue, surrounded by a charming, little park (which was still being worked on).

The event, entitled 'Symphonic Sparkle!', was the New Philharmonic Orchestra of Irving Season Finale. What was special about it: some talented students of the local school district, including a great young violin player - youth concerto composition and scholarship winner, played with the Orchestra musicians too. We were not only very pleased with the music by Schubert and Bizet, and the quality of the musical performance but also with the theater room too. It is so good that there are still places like that - where food and drinks are not allowed during a play or concert. The smell of pop corn or/and sounds made by munching and champing audience can really spoil the quality of music/art perception.
FavTreats Music Texas
Irving Arts Center - before the concert...
The student instrumentalists participating in the Finale made me think of the musical education paths here, in the States, and in my home country.
Although Music is one of  many obligatory subjects ( besides Polish, Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Biology, PE, a foreign language, Crafts, History, Social Studies, Computer Science and Art at a junior high level for example), Music classes at a state school in Poland  include mainly learning about theory of music, and listening to music pieces by various composers of course. Most state schools usually have one piano, a few recorders, xylophones, tambourines and triangles. When I was teaching early education students, we also had a big electronic music board in every early education classroom of the school where I worked then. The board was quite a thing at that time - there was the staff with treble clef and diatonic scale notes (on C) on it. The notes, when touched with an electronic pointer, played sounds - I used it to teach the kids the notes/basic notation, it was fun. We also played little percussion instruments, xylophones, and sang. We did not have enough instruments at the school, so I asked the parents of my students' to buy them some simple xylophones. There was about thirty children in my class, when all of them started to try their little instruments, it was quite a noisy (and, frankly speaking, sometimes annoying) time. And I had only forty-five minutes a week to teach them everything which was included in the curriculum of the subject called Music.
Anyway, what I have learned while living in Poland, if a student there really wants to learn to play an instrument, they either need to take private lessons or go to a musical school. Of course the previous one includes money, but if someone is talented enough/has a 'musical ear', they can be admitted to a state musical school of I or II level. It is free but it requires a lot of effort meaning not only musical practice. Musical school classes are run in the afternoons and evenings, after the regular school time. That is why the kids - instruments players, after a day spent at their primary/junior high or high school go straight to the other - musical school. It is hard work but later, if one wants to develop themselves and study music at university, they do not have to do two schools anymore - in this meaning state musical academy is a kind of relief time.
I find it really great that students of US school districts have an opportunity to learn to play instruments at their own schools, and if they choose it, be a part of an orchestra or a marching band.

Without music life would be really Flat!

In the park - at the Arts Center

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