Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Going for a Song!

It wasn’t the easiest of afternoons, driving my daughter to the New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) exam. Not only was she uncertain about her mastery of the set piece of music but she was also suffering from allergies and all that that entails. Plus, it was in Centereach, which is about an hour’s drive from here in late afternoon traffic – a part of Long Island which I rarely visit on account of it being near nowhere of interest. But we had to go.

Centereach High School is a quite unremarkable modern building, like so many schools in this part of the world, but on entering I learned the salutary lesson that a school is about its people, not its bricks and mortar. We were met by a “monitor,” a High School junior who had volunteered to stay on and help with the NYSSMA tests. There were over fifty such enthusiastic volunteers, I learned, as there were some four hundred students attending the exams, each in their own musical discipline: strings, brass, woodwind, percussion and, in Kate’s case, voice. It was quite wonderful, with young musicians hanging out in every space, and enough violin cases to make you think long and hard about upsetting the Italian population! There was a tangible buzz in the air, and notes, warbles and fanfares coming through every closed door as judges put students through their paces. And everyone, from the NYSSMA Director, through the staff to the young volunteers, was so helpful. Nothing was too much trouble and all ran like clockwork. The only negative expressions were on the faces of some of the parents – those who push, and push, if you get my drift.

Of course we had a problem. The CD-ROM which held Kate’s piano accompaniment would not play on a standard player, so the staff held a conference and within about twenty minutes a lap-top with speakers was procured. Fingers were snapped and it was all made to work.

And Kate took one last sniff, cleared her throat, and sang her heart out!

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