Holiday Spirit in Song

Once the snow begins to fly and we officially flip the calendar to December, the clock seems to run faster by the day. I thoroughly enjoy taking the time to slow down and take in this season of sounds. Teachers, students and musicians begin working on their holiday performances not long after school resumes in the fall and I hope families have created wonderful memories watching their children of all ages shine.

The elementary music program season actually kicked off in late November in order to accommodate all of the performances to be held at our state of the art, Jenison Center for the Arts. Last week, Jenison Conductors Grant Carmichael, Dan Scott, Josh Zallar, Dave Zamborsky along with accompanist Justin Colwell led nearly 250 student performers for a Christmas Collage concert that I would consider the highlight of the holiday season.

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Mr. Dan Scott welcomes the audience and invites them to join the choirs in singing  “Deck the Halls” arranged by Carmen Dragon. This piece was written for the Hollywood Bowl orchestra back in the 40’s and represents an era of classic symphonic Christmas sounds we don’t hear very often anymore, one of Mr. Scott’s favorites of the evening.

 

The high school performers of the Advanced Women’s Chorus, Chamber Singers, Chorale, Chamber Orchestra, Symphony Orchestra and Wind Symphony performed an absolutely spectacular performance that wowed 1,300 guests. Allowing the band, orchestra and choir to collaborate gives them and their families the opportunity to hear ensembles they’re not involved with. It was such a treat to hear the stage come alive with all aspects of our award winning music program.

Performing traditional holiday favorites as well as new pieces, the sheer talent present on stage – from students and staff was unbelievable. As many of our students participate in multiple groups, the stage was buzzing with set changes throughout the evening. Performers moving locations, picking up their instrument, or joining their choir group depending on the song.

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The song Hine Ma Tov performed by the Choirs, Wind Symphony and Symphony Orchestra was a song that was originally written as a choral piece. The directors knew they wanted to perform this piece with more than just the choir so Mr. Dave Zamborsky was tasked with tapping into another one of his amazing talents. He would arrange the orchestration piece for the students to learn.

In the few weeks following the Band of America Nationals competition, Mr. Zamborsky poured himself into the new arrangement; taking the song from his head, to the page, to the classroom. The students had a few weeks to learn their individual parts and just two full rehearsals together prior to the performance.

The theme of the song is, Yea, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers and sisters to dwell together in unity! It was an incredibly moving experience to watch these groups represent unity in music. 

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Mr. Dave Zamborsky conducting Hine Ma Tov

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The final number of the evening is always exciting and breathtaking. Family and community members of all ages are invited on stage to join the students in singing the Hallelujah chorus.

Every year, the talented musicians and our amazing directors give our community an incredible Christmas gift with these performances. We are very blessed by the passion and commitment of these teachers. Jenison is an incredible place to be home for the holidays!

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Traveling Music Education

High school exam week is a busy time and students often countdown the days until they complete their last big test. This winter, the Jenison High School Choir and Orchestra students had another reason to anticipate the end of an often stressful week.

At the end of the day on Thursday, January 17, they embarked 4 deluxe motor coach busses and set off for a long weekend of fun, music appreciation and education. Excitement was high and it was pleasantly sunny when 191 students, a handful of directors, and plenty of caring parent chaperones set off on their way to the Twin Cities, Minnesota area.

Mr. Dan Scott and Mr. Grant Carmichael (directors of Jenison Orchestra and Choir programs respectively) believe that giving our students opportunities to grow both as a musician and a person is very important; and traveling is something that suits that goal. Students and musical ensembles grow musically by living and sharing experiences together, and performing and working with teachers at a more advanced level. A trip like this occurs every four years, giving a Jenison student the opportunity to join at least once in their high school music career. The directors spend many hours working to create an itinerary for this trip to guarantee an unforgettable experience.

Kicking off this year’s memorable trip; was a stop in Chicago. Authentic Chicago deep dish pizza at Giordano’s for dinner, followed by a much anticipated performance of the hit Broadway musical, Hamilton.

After spending the night in Chicago, the hardworking loading crew got everybody and their stuff back on the bus. This crew consisted of volunteer students that were willing to work hard to make sure each and every piece of luggage, and all 104 instruments were accounted for each time the group stopped. This was another great teaching opportunity for students to follow a process and use team work efficiently – in very cold temperatures. Often, students that weren’t officially part of the crew jumped in to assist as well. They did their job brilliantly and showed character and strong work ethic at each stop. Next up, was shopping and Friday night dinner at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. 

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The hardworking highlight of the trip was the visit to the University of Minnesota on Saturday morning. Each clinician brought wonderful diversity in perspective and background. Students were exposed to several new ideas pertaining to rehearsal and performance of their music, and had the opportunity to be treated like a collegiate/professional ensemble. The clinics inspired the students to see what is possible musically and how close they are to obtaining it, despite not being professional musicians. It helped reinforce the reality that they too, are artists and can make music at the highest of levels. Our Jenison music directors and students also remarked, even with the added diversity in culture and experience; both professionals reiterated and validated many concepts students had already been learning in our award winning programs at home.

Orchestra Clinic with Ernesto Estigarribia

The words Ernesto Estigarribia used to direct the students, described his style of conducting: energy, passion, powerful and articulate. He connected with the students personally and technically. They were on the edge of their seats, thoroughly engaged in high level music making for the entire clinic. In a very relevant analogy, he told the students to not play as if they are giving the right-of-way to someone else. Play boldly and aggressive, then playfully added – but don’t drive aggressive! He urged them to leave fear behind and not be tentative in their playing, from the moment they pick up their bow. His passion was made even more clear as he pleaded with students to not give up their love for music. Although not everyone will study music and be a full time musician; there are many opportunities to keep music alive. Fostering love for music, playing for fun, and attending performances are all important for good balance in the world. Our orchestras made a strong impression on him. He shared that they are playing at a very high level and should be very proud to be part of such a great program.

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Dan Scott, Ernesto Estigarribia, Josh Zallar, Becky Bush

Choir Clinic with Ahmed Anzaldúa

The choirs sang for Ahmed Anzaldúa who greatly transformed music making for the group. Mr. Anzaldúa challenged traditional notions and encouraged the students to think about their singing as a truly interactive and social event. Our Jenison singers participated wholeheartedly when he described music as a team building, story-telling adventure. He warned that choir can bring about an awful side that stifles creativity, however, with the right attitude from each member, they can achieve true balance. They worked to dissect the musical piece to understand each part; guiding them through exercises where they listen to and learn from each other, recognizing that all parts need to be heard. Choir in its best form is about people – self expression and fun experimentation as they find character in each sound.

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Jenison High School Choirs and Choral staff: Grant Carmichael, Justin Colwell (accompanist) and Kyle Cain with Ahmed Anzaldúa

After a very busy, hardworking morning, the students enjoyed lunch and game time at Dave & Buster’s before returning to the hotel.

Saturday night was another treat as the busses rolled up to Chanhassen Dinner Theatre, the nation’s largest professional dinner theatre. The students enjoyed dinner and a Broadway quality musical performance of Irving Berlin’s ‘Holiday Inn’. The show was an unexpected delight for many students. In the end, while the acting, singing and choreography was incredible – it was the larger-than-life sounding, behind-the-scenes, 10-man live band that received most of the student applause. Music appreciation at its finest!img_0723

Our Jenison Fine Arts programs are among the finest in Michigan and throughout the region. Thank you to our outstanding music staff who invest their time and efforts to make our excellent program a reality for our students. I am excited for the memories they made, the lessons they learned and am incredibly proud of the way they represented themselves, their music program and the Jenison Schools District/Community. This is a wonderful compliment to the students, their families, and the community of Jenison! 

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Our orchestra and choir staff had an amazing experience with the students on this trip and are so proud of the hard work and grateful for the memories from this trip! Back row: Dan Scott, Grant Carmichael, Kyle Cain. Front Row: Becky Bush, Josh Zallar. Missing: Justin Colwell.

 

 

 

 

 

Sound the Trumpets: Prestigious Honors Go to JHS’ Mr. Zamborsky & Mr. Scott

If you thought that brackets and championships were just for March Madness, you’d be wrong. Because while Mr. Zamborsky and Mr. Scott didn’t shoot hoops for these awards, the stakes and the honor that go along with them are just as high, and the applause from the crowd is just as loud.

We are thrilled to share that earlier this month, both Orchestra teacher Dan Scott and Band teacher Dave Zamborsky received word that they had been nominated by their peers and elected as District 10 Michigan School Band and Orchestra Association (MSBOA) Teachers of the Year! 

Jenison Public Schools, Dave Zamborsky, Dan Scott, MSBOA Awards

There are sixteen MSBOA districts in the State of Michigan, and Jenison lands in district 10 which is comprised of roughly 150-200 schools spanning from Northern Allegan to Lowell.

To draw a comparison between music education and athletics, these districts could be thought of as the OK Conferences for music. One distinguishing factor in this situation, however, is that our directors were identified as outstanding by their peers, and voted on to win Teachers of the Year.

“For me, that’s what means the most. I’m really flattered to have been chosen by my colleagues,” said Mr. Scott.

“Winning these accolades speaks volumes about the reputation of Jenison’s program,” added Mr. Zamborsky.

Pushing the significance of this honor to greater heights is the fact that no two teachers from the same school have ever won before! In fact, there are some districts in Michigan (typically the smaller ones) that vote only to honor either one band or one orchestra teacher, but not both.

This year changed everything when the MSBOA members voted to recognize the work of both a band and an orchestra instructor — and both from the same high school. This has never happened before!

“This award really highlights the well-roundedness of our entire program, both in band and in orchestra,” noted Mr. Zamborsky.

Moving forward, winners from all sixteen districts will go to the “state finals” on June 3, where three finalists from each category will be chosen to be presented to the MSBOA membership in the fall. Then, from December 2013 to January 2014, these same members will vote on one orchestra and one band teacher to be recognized –not just as superior in their district — but as exemplary in the state.  Results of the final voting will be made public on January 14, 2014.

If Mr. Zamborsky and Mr. Scott earn this recognition from their peers, they will have the opportunity to conduct the All-State Honors Band and Orchestra at the Michigan Youth Arts Festival in May 2014.

Please join me in congratulating these men on this unprecedented achievement! We are so lucky to have them both leading Jenison’s music program!