Rocking through the halls

Howard grade-schoolers pick up their instruments and step lively in Jeffers Hill's first Music Parade

  • Sean Jordan, 10, holds his euphonium as he waits to join the parade around his school, Jeffers Hill Elementary School Wednesday.
Sean Jordan, 10, holds his euphonium as he waits to join the parade… (Kenneth K. Lam, Baltimore…)
April 04, 2010|By John-John Williams IV |

Sean Jordan steadied the hulking euphonium on Wednesday afternoon as he followed the rest of his classmates snaking through the hallways of Jeffers Hill Elementary while playing "We Will Rock You." Throngs of classmates wildly cheered as they held up homemade signs that read: "Music!" and "Music Rocks."

Sean, 10, was in his element as he formed his mouth to make the buzzing noise necessary to play the golden-colored instrument that resembles a tuba. The fourth-grader was among a group of about 70 third-, fourth- and fifth-graders who performed in the Columbia school's first Music Parade.

"I think I did great," Sean said after he was finished playing. "I was able to memorize all the music."

And despite the fact that his tiny arms were sore from lugging around the instrument, Sean claimed success.

"In the end, it was almost perfect," he said.

The Music Parade is the brainchild of Megan Hartten, the school's instrumental music teacher, and Lauren Noullet, the school's music teacher. The parade was a way to culminate Music In Our Schools Month and an opportunity to bridge the gap between the school's winter concert in December and the spring concert in May, according to the teachers.

"It's nice timing-wise," Hartten said. "Coming out of winter, there is a huge lull. It helps keep the kids motivated."

Students practiced for about a month leading up to the parade. In addition to "We Will Rock You," the students memorized "London Bridge."

This was the first time the students had to juggle playing memorized music while marching, said Noullet, who called it "a good challenge."

The parade, which lasted about a half-hour, also featured an appearance by the school's mascot, the Jeffers Hill Jaguar, and pep squad.

"This is phenomenal," Principal Pam Butler said. "The students are really excited about the music."

For the entire month of March, the Jeffers Hill music department has offered activities to give students a better appreciation of music. There have been miniconcerts for individual grade levels and morning announcements featuring music trivia.

"It's been exciting," Butler said.

Cheryl Harris-Lee, a second-grade teacher at the school, had a blast during the parade. She was cheering and dancing along with her students.

"I thought the parade was wonderful," she said. "It was a great end-of-the-month activity. They sounded great. They've been working hard all year. It was a great way to show off their talents."

The parade was also a way to expose the younger students to the possibility of playing music. Students receive instrumental music lessons starting in third grade in Howard County.

Jakob Anwar, 8, said he could tell that the students spent a lot of time practicing.

"They worked really hard," the second-grader said. "When I get older I want to get up there. I love music. It's fun to listen to."

Jedzya Labosky, also an 8-year-old second-grader, said she wants to join the school band when she's old enough.

"It was really good," Jedzya said about the concert. "I know they worked really hard. And I love music."

Brigitte Anwar, an instruction assistant at the school, said the parade was especially beneficial for the younger students.

"To see those kids - only a couple years older than them - is really exciting for them," she said. "It teaches them team spirit. It united them. It was exciting and focused. ... All the teachers had smiles on their faces."

Verlin Alsina, a grandparent of two students at the school, was so impressed with the parade, he complimented Hartten afterward.

"You did such a great job," said Alsina, whose grandchildren, Andre Jones, a 9-year-old fourth-grader, and Angelo Jones, an 8-year-old third-grader, play instruments at the school. "I'm just blown away. I really liked what I saw."

Hartten later said she was extremely proud of her students.

"They didn't once complain. They didn't stop," she said. "I think we are going to do it again. ... It was a nice way to begin spring break."

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