You may recall that, just before Christmas, I did a column on my sixth grade grandson Braden Ochs’s Christmas concert as a member of the B. Michael Caudill Middle School Band. I was so blown away with that performance that I asked readers to let me know if any other middle schools had upcoming musical programs that might be similarly impressive.
Apparently music educators and parents of their students do not spend a lot of time reading the local paper. At least I never received a single invitation or notice that any other middle school in central or southeastern Kentucky had upcoming concerts. Loretta says that I may be the person who doesn’t read the papers because she is pretty sure she saw notice of one somewhere, sometime, in the Garrard Central Record and that people who live in glass houses, etc.
Anyway, sometime around the first of March, Braden sent word by Gramma that if Grandpa was so impressed with the Christmas
program, he should come to the spring “Festival Preview Concert” because “he ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Over the course of the next few weeks, Braden sent subsequent reminders that the concert was coming up on March 26 as a prelude to an annual assessment conducted by the Kentucky Music Educators Association. The messages essentially told me “to be there or be square!” Don’t tell my grandson that I would have been there without his persistent encouragement. I am extremely proud that he takes such a high level of interest and pride in his school’s achievements and, truth be told, he did have me looking forward to the concert far more than I would have been without his obvious excitement.
Each band is evaluated using a criterion-based rating system (Novice, Apprentice, Proficient, and Distinguished). Each band is evaluated by three judges for their stage performance and one judge evaluates a sight-reading piece. The four judges’ totals are then averaged and used to determine the bands’ final rating.
When the concert was over, there was no doubt in my mind that all three grade levels from Caudill Middle School would be rated Distinguished because kids this young are not supposed to be this good. Later in the week those expectations proved true. But I would have rated them “Beyond Magnificent!”
Hats off to Caudill Middle School Band Director Ben Walker and to the EKU Center for the Arts, for allowing these kids to share such a dynamic, professional venue. This group proved, beyond doubt, they deserved to be there.
As we were coming home from the concert Monday evening, Loretta said, “You do know that Braden has a play on Wednesday night, don’t you?”
I did not know that, nor had said grandson gone out of his way to encourage my attendance. My recollection of Braden and school plays in grades K through 5 is that they were never met with any sign of enthusiasm. “Gloom, despair and agony on me” would better describe his previous attitude toward drama from my observation.
Needless to say, Gramma and I were equally surprised to learn that our supposedly stage-shy offspring had not only voluntarily joined the Caudill Middle School Drama Club but had a starring role in its first public performance.
The variety show-style play entitled “At the Mall” was a series of comic parody sketches centered around stuff that might happen inside a shopping mall as perceived by a group of adolescents. Silly stuff at a cosmetics counter, Christmas in July, little sister wants to buy a puppy, a purse snatcher, guys waiting for their girlfriends and girls yakking, yakking, yaking were just a few of the absolutely hilarious acts that had us laughing as hard as we do at old Saturday Night Live and Carol Burnett Show reruns.
I’m guessing there were about 15 kids in the cast and probably 10 stagehands involved with the production that had a budget so low that Mr. Zachary Milford, the drama coach/director was caught sneaking furniture out of his home to use for props.
I emptied my wallet of my last $14 to help support production costs of their next play and I’d have gladly given $50 if I’d had it on me. I intend to mail a donation or send it by Braden before the year is out.
In the meantime, our grandson turned out to be a natural. On the way home, we speculated as to where this newfound stage presence is coming from. Gramma says that it surely can’t have anything to do with the opposite sex.