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Christmas cheer for children to hear

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Liz Harkins

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Wind Symphony travels to elementary schools in spirit of holidays

Clarinet+Christmas+%2F%2F+Playing+their+bass+clarinets%2C+junior+Wylie+Dunham+and+freshman+Ryan+Rodarte+spread+holiday+cheer+by+performing+multiple+traditional+Christmas+pieces+at+Birmingham+Elementary+for+students+during+the+Wind+Symphony+elementary+tour+Dec.+12.+
Clarinet Christmas // Playing their bass clarinets, junior Wylie Dunham and freshman Ryan Rodarte spread holiday cheer by performing multiple traditional Christmas pieces at Birmingham Elementary for students during the Wind Symphony elementary tour Dec. 12.

Clarinet Christmas // Playing their bass clarinets, junior Wylie Dunham and freshman Ryan Rodarte spread holiday cheer by performing multiple traditional Christmas pieces at Birmingham Elementary for students during the Wind Symphony elementary tour Dec. 12.

courtesy photo

courtesy photo

Clarinet Christmas // Playing their bass clarinets, junior Wylie Dunham and freshman Ryan Rodarte spread holiday cheer by performing multiple traditional Christmas pieces at Birmingham Elementary for students during the Wind Symphony elementary tour Dec. 12.

According to Buddy the Elf from the movie Elf, “The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear.” Christmas cheer was spread by high school band students Dec. 11-12. Just like in Elf, squeals of joy and laughter filled the air as the top band played holiday classics such as Silent Night, Deck the Halls, and the ever-so-popular Jingle Bells for students at six elementary schools. As part of their annual Christmas elementary tour, Wind Symphony travelled to Birmingham, Akin, Cox, Watkins, Bush and Hartman elementaries to play festive classics.

Every district I’ve taught in has been unique in its own way, but Wylie stands out. I loved being able to spread cheer to all the children and let them experience just how wonderful music really is in a program like the Pride of the East.”

— Mr. Gregory Hayes, director of bands

The tour commenced with top band students arriving fully dressed, equipped with a Santa hat, ready for their first performances at Akin, Cox and Watkins 6:45 in the morning Dec.11. The show consisted of four pieces by the names A Christmas FestivalThe Polar Express, The Italian of Algiers and star of the show Frozen.

This was Director of Bands Greg Hayes’ first tour and it opened his eyes to the allure of Wylie.

“Every district I’ve taught in has been unique in its own way, but Wylie stands out. I loved being able to spread cheer to all the children and let them experience just how wonderful music really is in a program like the Pride of the East,” Mr. Hayes said.

For both the children watching and the musicians performing, this tour was an interactive, lively chance to embrace Christmas cheer. The tour is for the kids. At each elementary school, assistant directors Kelsie Dunham and Robert Houpe selected children interested in the music from the crowd and placed them into the band’s setup to let them experience being a musician. Elementary students were chosen by their music teacher to conduct the final piece. This tradition occurs annually on tour. Birmingham Elementary music teacher Deanna Aaron thinks of this experience as educating and a great way to get the kids more interested in music.

“It always makes me smile wide to see the kids I currently teach conduct some of the kids I used to teach. [The kids] really get to feel what it is like to be up on the podium and play like a professional,” Aaron said.

To make the tour even more personal, Mr. Hayes introduced Pride of the East band members who formerly attended the elementary school. Senior French Horn player Mary Harkins is a former Birmingham Bear and remembers the tour in her elementary days.

“At Birmingham, I felt the exact same feelings the current students do when we go on tour. It was third grade when they came and I first saw the French Horn. I was in awe of the instrument and I still am until this day, but it was third grade when I instantly knew I was destined to play it,” Harkins said.

The tour was a hit for not just the students or musicians, but Wylie East Principal Mike Williams. Williams attended the last stop on the tour at Bush Elementary and he said he was “truly stunned” by not just the talent, but how much joy was being spread.

“I love all of the programs here at East. The band students are just so talented and to see them put that many smiles on that many faces makes me feel proud,” Mr. Williams said.

The top band’s next performance is at the Mid-Winter concert alongside three other bands in the Auditorium 7 p.m. Feb. 13.

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Christmas cheer for children to hear