Old Orchard Junior High stages concert for ages
Old Orchard Junior High sixth grader Talia Kramer and family friend Marsha Rosenson practice May 8 before a unique spring concert at the school. | Curtis Lehmkuhl~Sun Times Media
Updated: June 18, 2012 8:09AM
Making music together has no age barrier.
That was proved last week by the Old Orchard Junior High School Band at its unique spring concert — especially the final two numbers. That’s when mothers, fathers and siblings, friends and family members and teachers and even administrators picked up their own instruments and joined the students on the gymnasium floor.
Together, they offered up booming renditions of the theme to “Mission Impossible” and “Great Locomotive Chase,” but the experience was about more than just making music together.
“This has been so much fun,” said Old Orchard Junior High School Band Director Julie Liebman. “What I’m really hoping for is that (students) will understand that their instrument doesn’t have to stop with their school band program.”
That was Liebman’s thinking when she came up with the idea of adding an inter-generational component to the spring concert. The first such concert was three years ago.
“My philosophy is that if we do this every three years, every Old Orchard student will get to do it once,’’ she said.
The Old Orchard band has 125 members, and Liebman was hoping that 75 adults would perform with the kids. Instead, she got about 95 who wanted to play so the final two numbers were performed by well over 200 people.
Mothers and fathers sat beside their sons and daughters playing their instruments during a rehearsal last week before the concert began. Old Orchard Junior High principal Robyn Hawley played the flute although she admitted she was a tad rusty.
“It’s a great event and you can see how it pulls everyone together,” Hawley said.
District 68 Superintendent Frances McTague welcomed both students and adults.
“For those of us who are not musically inclined, thank you for your patience as we learn to play some very sophisticated musical instruments,” she said. “It’s a wonderful event for our community so lets have some fun.”
McTague participated in the rehearsal by playing a train whistle.
Asked how long it took it her to master the instrument, she said, “Well, I will have been playing it for about 10 minutes.”
She further joked that she’s multi-talented because she also played the bongos during the all-inclusive last two numbers.
The large response to Liebman’s invitations to the event signifies that the concert is likely to become a tradition at Old Orchard Junior High thanks to her masterstroke of an idea.
“Many groups have community bands,” she said. “Some bands have had alumni bands. I just thought why stop there? Why just invite your alumni to come back or your former students? Why not invite everyone?”
Geoff Hanson and Alan Brooks, husbands of Old Orchard Junior High teachers, played their instruments during the concert and provided students with a little of their own history before it began.
The message from both of them was clear: They learned to play instruments when they were much younger, and they didn’t have to give them up when they got older.
“This is a fun event because it brings so many different people together,” Brooks said.
Tamara Glassburg, a violin teacher in Arlington Heights, performed last week with her seventh grade son.
“I think it’s a real nice idea because it helps parents really get involved with their kids,” she said. “There’s nothing kids like more than for their parents to actually do the activity with them.”
Glassburg plays the violin, of course, as does her son, Robert, but he has been playing the saxophone in the band to learn a new instrument.
The mother and son have played together for years including at farmers’ markets and other events. Tamara taught her son how to play the violin.
But this time it felt different from other gigs.
“This whole thing is more special because it’s one big community,” Robert Glassburg said.
“We’re all in a community here and doing everything together.”