Wow. Last Friday, through your generosity, we launched our first Music Instruction Class. This was the class that Dragon was working on creating, and here we were, finally bringing it to life.
OCSA Instructor Jeffrey de Seriere welcomed his 14 students on Friday afternoon, all elementary school kids from Santa Ana, California. We got to meet Kimberly, Diego, Robert, Julissa, and Alondra, to name just a few of our 4th-6th graders. Jeff started the class with a breathing lesson, teaching these new brass players the importance of proper breathing techniques. Then, as Jeff went around the semi-circle of students, asking if each had an instrument preference, a couple students confidently shouted out, “Trombone!” “Trumpet!”
With their newly assigned instruments in front of them, Jeff instructed the students to lay their music cases, latches down, and on the count of three, to open them. The students opened their cases all together, with sparkles in their eyes and squeals of pleasure. A couple children looked at the complicated-looking trombones hesitantly. While student teachers Maddie and Sebastien worked with the trumpet players, Max demonstrated to the trombone players how to put together their new instruments. “With trombones,” Jeff explained, “there is some assembly required.”
Then came the best part of the afternoon: Playing the instruments! Jeff showed how to place the mouthpiece on one’s lips, and then pointed to each child in turn, asking each child to blow through his or her mouthpiece. The room filled with toots and giggles. Some kids got it right away, and played through the mouthpiece really loudly. Other kids struggled, blowing hard yet getting nothing but silence. But with the help of Jeff and his student teachers, each child was eventually able to make a noise. Then, the moment of truth, as Jeff had them place the mouthpieces onto their actual instruments. “All together now…” Jeff intoned, and suddenly, the trumpets and trombones came to life.
It was pretty magical, watching these children fill the air with sound.
As I watched the OCSA students working with the elementary school students, imparting their musical knowledge, I thought about Dragon. I thought about how Dragon wanted to use his talents in music to contribute something to this world. I thought about how Dragon would tell me about the kids he sat with in the Tustin after-school music program, how he enjoyed watching them improve, week after week. I thought about how cool it was that in our program, the OSCA high schoolers could have this chance to use their skills to groom a new generation of musicians. I thought about how much Dragon and Justin loved their time at Pioneer Middle School in Mr. Fischer’s band, and for Dragon, how much he loved his time at OCSA. Music brought so much to their lives. I only hope it can do some of the same for the kids in our program.
In the next few weeks, we’ll highlight the students coming through our class, as well as the talented OCSA high schoolers that are working with these elementary school kids, helping them turn those first toots and whistles into music.
To Friday’s student teachers, Maddie, Sebastian, and Max: Great job teaching those young kids! Dragon would have been right there with you. Thank you for carrying on this work in his absence. He would have been thankful and proud.
Thank you, dear reader, for your donations, for your generosity made this program possible. “Thank you” to our dedicated team at OCSA: Teren Shaffer, Jeff de Seriere, Jake Vogel, and Pat McMaster. Your hard work brought this program to life. And “thank you” to the following friends, who donated both new and used trumpets and trombones. Your spirit of giving has brought new music to the lives of these young kids and their families. The world is forever changed because you’ve reached out to help someone.
Laurie, Dan, and Abby Berman
Cathy and Eric Sanders
Dan St. Marseilles
Joel and Quyen Urick