Saturday, April 19, 2008

Adventures in Music 1

The San Francisco Symphony invited the press to the farthest reaches of the Excelsior District on Wednesday to cover one of the thousands of concerts that the Symphony's Education Department presents annually in every elementary school in San Francisco.

Wednesday's concert was in the library and little theatre of the E.R. Taylor Elementary School, which was a beautiful old facility.

The AIM (Adventures In Music) program started twenty years ago as music education in the schools was being cut drastically.

The program is the brainchild and continues to be nurtured by Ron Gallman and Sammi Madison, above.

Realizing it was impossible to teach every child in San Francisco how to play music, they instead decided to focus on creating programs that could be integrated with the rest of the curriculum, which could then be featured each year in grades one through five in every classroom.

It took about eight years for the program to advance from a small pilot into the massive effort it has become, and the symphony organization has picked up the tab for the entire affair, for which they were being effusively thanked by Anthony Smith (above), the new Deputy Superintendent of the San Francisco Unified School District.

On account of their grueling schedule and morning rehearsals, the concerts are not actually given by San Francisco Symphony musicians, but by the best freelancers in the Bay Area, such as the San Francisco Opera and Ballet Orchestra trio of Donald Kennelly, Zach Spellman and Alicia Telford above, who perform close to 130 of these concerts a year as The Drei Brass.

Before they started their half-hour lecture/concert/demonstration, however, there was a talk from Principal Gini Gold to the first and second graders about being an "attentive audience."

"We are quiet and listen with our whole bodies. We don't put others down but celebrate them. We interact with the performers." I wish she would give the same lecture to some of the adult audiences at the San Francisco Symphony concerts.

Then The Drei Brass began by teaching the kids German, "One, Two, Three is Ein, Zwei, Drei, let's hear you say it," which the crowd was able to do effortlessly.

"We're The Drei Brass, and this is our fanfare," they explained before playing a lively refrain.

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