10 10 2006

Last Saturday, the school principal (who shall henceforth be known as the EMP) invited an odd-collection of students and faculty to accompany her to the annual School Festival of the Manila Japanese School.

If you recall my post about this last year, you will recall there weren’t that many of us who went to last year’s festival. This time, the school van was so packed, a few people (the students, of course) had to sit on the floor.

I’ve come to expect great things from MJS during their school festival; they put on original plays (complete with some of the most creative and “why didn’t I think of that?!”-inducing props), mini-musicals, and ensemble presentations…very few (if any) of which bombed. The 3rd Graders put on an operatta about Pinnochio…and it was incredible!!! The 4th Grader pianists were awesome! I found myself watching the pianists (who had to crane their necks over the top of the grand piano to see the stage) more than than the kids onstage…they were that good.

But it was the huge wind and percussion ensemble that left me weak-kneed; about 200 kids, from Grades 3 to 6 formed this “orchestra” of melodion, recorder, percussion, and keyboard instruments and performed some riveting TV-music. The first one was a military-style march, and frankly, the orchestra here in school can’t match that performance. The kids knew their parts cold…I bet they could play their parts in their sleep. And I also discovered that Japanese taiko drums make excellent timpani.

How did they do it?! I shake my head when I think of the hours and the discipline (and in the case of the Japanese, head-swatting); if I resorted to that, there wouldn’t be an orchestra in ICA for very long. What’s more, given our natural giftedness in music and the arts, deep inside I know we can make music just as fantastic, just as riveting – but we’re too lazy to pay the price.




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