The awards case lining F-wing and the three-foot trophies in the band room are visual evidence of something Carlmont staff and students know — our instrumental music program is exceptional.
The instrumental music students work every day in class for several performances throughout the year. The main ones are the winter and spring concerts, a three-day affair that showcases each of the five instrumental groups as well as an additional extracurricular jazz program.
Performing for an appreciative audience is a welcome result of the musicians’ months of preparation.
“I love seeing people come to our concerts,” said senior Casey Armstrong, who has been a member of Carlmont Jazz Ensemble for four years. “It’s awesome when teachers come to our concerts because it’s fun to play for them and show them something we do outside of their classes.”
In addition to family and friends in the audience, Carlmont administration, faculty, and staff are invited to attend the concerts. Attending concerts can hold other benefits for teachers in addition to just spending an evening enjoying music.
“I enjoy seeing students I don’t always get to interact with, and watching them perform. It’s nice to see other aspects our school has to offer that I don’t see every day,” said Administrative Vice Principal Grant Steunenberg. “It’s also exciting for the students to see their teachers there, and can be a great way to build relationships between students and teachers.”
Some staff members, like math teacher Marianne Grandon and chemistry teacher Felix Guzman, take up the instrumental department’s complimentary ticket offers and are regulars at the instrumental concerts. However, the instrumental program wants to encourage all of the faculty to attend more of the music concerts.
Guzman shared the reasons he enjoys the concerts: “I’m always impressed by the level of achievement. The quality is so, so good and very professional, it’s hard to believe that it’s high school students playing.”
There are, of course, obstacles that teachers and faculty have to overcome to be able to attend the performances.
“A lot of the teachers have barriers to overcome in order to attend: rigors of work, class preparation, grading, and added complexities of kids and family,” said Steunenberg. “It’s not just a band thing; it’s the same with attending sports and drama events.”
Teachers are busy, and it’s partially up to students to approach and remind their teachers if they really want to see them attending concerts.
“Teachers need reminders — I have missed some because I forgot and the email we get gets lost in all the email I get,” said Guzman. “Concerts are also really close to finals and lots of teachers are swamped with grading. If they don’t live close by, it’s hard to come back at night for a concert.”
If teachers don’t live near Carlmont or have other responsibilities to tend to, attending an extra event may seem like a burden.
However, attending music concerts doesn’t have to take away from time with family. Teachers have been known to bring spouses, children, or other relatives or friends to concerts in the past.
“I bring my family to events and I’ve seen teachers bring their kids,” said Steunenberg. “It really becomes a fun evening out, and teachers already have two tickets given to them to attend.”
Another benefit of attending concerts with family is that children can watch older kids playing music at a high level. The performances can be a good example of what dedication to something can achieve. Students like sophomore Jill Albertson were inspired to join the music program by Carlmont concerts they attended before entering high school.
“I would absolutely recommend other teachers to come to concerts,” said Guzman. “If they have little kids they want to encourage to play music, it’s a great experience to let them see young teenagers playing so well.”
While it is understandable that staff and faculty are busy with many obligations and responsibilities, attending Carlmont concerts can be a great way to develop relationships with students, spend time with family and friends, and simply enjoy a night of music.
The next instrumental music concerts will be held on May 18, 19, and 20. Details on which groups perform on each night and how to purchase tickets can be found on carlmontmusic.com.