Franklin (MA) School Committee Blog

The pieces below represent the views of the individual authors, not the committee as a whole.

Archive for April 6th, 2009

Shining eyes amplified the performances

Posted by Jeffrey Roy on April 6, 2009

Over the last month, we have had the opportunity to see Franklin students perform on stage in various ensembles. We have seen bands, orchestras, choral groups, and for the past two weekends, we have had theatrical performances put on by the Footlighters (all three middle schools) and Franklin High School. Here’s a snapshot of what we has taken place in the last five weeks alone:

The Franklin High Jazz Band performed in four different Jazz Festivals all listed below:

  • University of Massachusetts Jazz Festival At this festival three high school students were awarded scholarships to attend the UMass Summer Jazz Program
  • Massachusetts Central District Jazz Festival The band was awarded a gold medal and was invited to perform at the state festival
  • University of New Hampshire Jazz Festival All Jazz Band students also attended an improvisation clinic at this festival
  • Massachusetts State Jazz Festival The band was awarded a silver medal at the state Jazz finals

The band also performed at the FEF Trivia Bee

Three of our high school students were accepted into the Massachusetts Music Educators All State Festival. These students performed in the Massachusetts All State concert at Symphony Hall.

On March 27th & 28th, the middle school students ppresented “Guys and Dolls” and on April 3rd & 4th, the FHS performed “South Pacific.”

On Saturday, April 4th, the Middle School String Orchestra and the Middle School Select Chorus competed at the MICCA festival.  At the festival, the Combined Middle School Orchestra received a silver medal and the Middle School combined Select Chorus received a bronze medal.

These events give both participants and the audience a feel for what performance is all about. Students get to see how you translate technical musical skills into a performance. There is far more to music than simply knowing the piece and playing it. You have to make your performance appeal to the audience and you have to move them.

Along those lines, I ask you to indulge me for 20 minutes. Please view the 20 minute video below that explains the idea of “performance” very well. It’s a TED talk by Benjamin Zander. Since 1979, Zander has been the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic. He is known around the world as both a guest conductor and a speaker on leadership — and he’s been known to do both in a single performance. He uses music to help people open their minds and create joyful harmonies that bring out the best in themselves and their colleagues. Zander has two infectious passions: classical music, and helping us all realize our untapped love for it — and by extension, our untapped love for all new possibilities, new experiences, new connections. In this video, you’ll see him translate this passion into words, and hopefully make you appreciate what you see in the performances each night.

You can view the video by clicking here or on the image below.

And here is a clip from the Presentation blog that provides more perspective:

It is not enough to know a piece of music intellectually or to play it without any mistakes, you have to convey the true language of the music emotionally, says Zander. When musicians truly get into the music and play it with such heart and emotion that audiences are moved beyond words, Zander noticed that the music was flowing through the musicians, taking control of their bodies as they swayed from side to side. Zander, then, urges musicians to become “one-buttock players,” that is to let the music flow through their bodies, causing them to lean and to move from one buttock to the other. If you’re a musician, or making a performance of virtually any kind, and you are totally in the moment and connecting with the language of the music and the audience, there is no way you can be a “two-buttock player.” You’ve got to move, you’ve got to connect, and you must not hold back your passion but instead let the audience have a taste of the commitment, energy, and passion you have for the music (or the topic, the ideas, etc.). This quote below from Martha Graham captures the essence of the idea of giving way to passion (from page 116 of The Art of Possibility). I think you can apply these words to the art of performance or presentation, and frankly to life in general including leadership, entrepreneurship, etc.

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” — Martha Graham

You decide. You can hold back, aim not to make an error and play it perfectly “on two-buttocks,” or you can say “Screw it!—I’ll take a risk” and dare to lean into the music with intensity, color, humanity, and passion and quite possibly, in your own small way (and on only one buttock), change the world. Play it with total sincerity and with your entire body — heart and soul — and you will make a connection and change things. As Ben Zander said while encouraging one of his talented students to play it in the “one-buttock” style:

“If you play that way, they won’t be able to resist you. You will be a compelling force behind which everyone will be inspired to play their best.” — Ben Zander

Thank you to the Franklin middle and high school students who did such a great job over the past two weekends. You truly did have shining eyes.

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