The Middle School/Upper School Orchestra performed at the Mustang Assembly. Pre-K and Grade 3 students had front row seats.

We are better together: Lessons from our musicians

Over the past four weeks, Colorado Academy musicians have performed three recitals, an all-school choir concert, an orchestra concert, and three bands played in a jazz and rock concert. It is hard to put into words the joy these performances brought to our community, which has truly missed live music these past 21 months. On November 15, the Music Department hosted two cross-divisional Mustang Assemblies, where the Middle School and Upper School Orchestra and the Upper School Choir performed together. Following the assemblies, multiple people expressed that the music they heard had brought them to tears.

The Middle School Choir performed on November 9.

The magic we see and hear on stage is like a complex puzzle that begins with many small individual pieces jumbled up in a box. The secret ingredient of bringing this puzzle together is time (with a large dash of perseverance). Leading up to these performances, our music faculty and students spend countless hours practicing the technical aspects of making music independently, followed by as many hours rehearsing as a team—awkwardly at first, stumbling over one another—as they home in on that balance so important to playing together as one.

The Middle School rock band, The Miscellaneous, performed on November 17.

Some words from Bruce Springsteen in his 2020 documentary, Letter to You. Springsteen has played with the E Street Band for 45 years.

“A rock band is a social unit, based on the premise that all of us together are greater than the sum of our individual parts. That we can achieve something that we could not achieve alone. And together, a higher ground awaits. While in our band, the songs and the individual visions are mine, the physical creation of that vision into a real-world presence, belongs to all of us. We are a band.”

The Lower School Choir performed on November 9.

The creative process of making music is messy, unpredictable, and has substantial ups and downs. At multiple times, musicians wonder if they will ever get “there.” It is this process we must all learn from. These musicians support one another, keep rhythm for one another, make eye contact when it is time to make the next move, take turns lifting one another up, and they make each other sound better.

Maria Wietrzynska and her First Grade student, Hattie Ralston, at the piano recital in October

As I observed our music faculty pull together these performances featuring our young musicians, I watched in awe as they all worked as a team as well, accompanying one another on multiple instruments, moving music stands around the stage, writing the programs, and sitting in the audience cheering one another on. All our musicians have reminded me this month, “together we are better.”

The Upper School Choir and Orchestra combined at the November 9 Choir Concert.

As I write this, Thanksgiving is five days away. I would like to extend gratitude to our music faculty at CA: Jennifer Arnold, Madoka Asari, Brenda Bartel, Becky Burchfield, Connie Char, Andrew Friedrich, Nora Golden, Phil Jones, Kevin Padworski, Maria Wietrzynska, and Isabella Ubertone. You make magic happen.