In Lakewood City Schools, children in fifth grade choose an instrument to play. This spans from the brass and woodwinds of the band, to the strings of the orchestra, to the vocalist in choir. This starts a child’s musician education, going to one of the middle schools and performing in a general band, orchestra, or choir for each grade. Then going to the high school, where they can join a wide arrange of bands, choirs, and orchestras we have here. From Lakewood Project to marching band, deciding which instrument to play in fifth grade is a big deal.
When the day does finally come for this years fifth graders to choose, the day is very exciting, but also very stressful. They leave class, go down to the cafeteria, where every middle school music teacher is there with every instrument they can imagine—-the orchestra teacher is showing a girl how to properly sit with a cello, the band director is teaching a boy how to make a noise out of a clarinet– and they are told to go free, to try any instrument of their heart desire. And while many kids find inspiration from a family member to play the same instrument the did, or choose the first instrument they get their hands on, this choice can be near impossible for the curious musical overachievers.
This is where the Instruments on Parade concert comes into play. The high schoolers perform a concert for these little indecisive musicians, where each group gets to demonstrate each instrument or section they have. The choir opened the concert, with more classical pieces, then moved to modern music and showed the kids they could sing their favorite songs. Next was the orchestra program, where chamber orchestra took the kids on a trip through time, playing everything from Beethoven to jazz standards. Then Lakewood Project took over, where the string players ditched their acoustic instruments for electric ones, to show kids they can have fun playing orchestra music. Finally, we showed out school spirit with the marching band.
Whether it was the blended sound of the choir, the fun of Lakewood Project, or the booming music of the marching band, Instruments on Parade inspired these kids in their choice of an instrument, a choice that could change their entire lives.