Vaughn Elementary music teacher Lisa Mills recently poured her talents into kindergarten through fifth-graders to produce a rousing musical for a wall- to-wall audience of parents, siblings, friends and … me.
“Music class is an exciting opportunity offered to students,” Mills said. “The goal is to create, perform and respond to music, and promote a lifelong enjoyment of music. Students at Vaughn spend several months each year preparing a performance for their families. They learn important life lessons like working hard and taking pride in doing their very best.”
Each class chose a piece to learn on the xylophone, which they performed as an ensemble at the concert. Several students played instrumental solos on xylophones, and many had speaking parts to tie concert songs together.
“I loved it when I was the solo attraction,” said second-grader Noah Smeltzer. “I loved the concert, especially when my mom was watching me and loved playing the xylophones.” Classmate Lyla Erickson said, “I liked that we had the chance to perform and entertain our families. We put a lot of hard work into this concert.”
“When you are really good at playing the xylophones it makes you feel more alive!” declared second-grader Lila Marshall.
“When you perform, it feels like you are in a movie,” Ena Bailey said. “When you are playing the xylophones, it feels like you are a professional musician. When you are a speaker at the microphone, you have to make sure that you do it at the right time.”
I should hope so!
Mills wanted to thank the Peninsula Schools Education Foundation for its grant of $1,000, which purchased a Fender portable PA system for the school’s concerts, and the Rotary Club of Gig Harbor for its gift of $500 to purchase new microphones to replace aging malfunctioning ones, making it possible to understand student speakers.
Vaughn also received a $7,500 grant from Cora Voce, a Tacoma-based choral ensemble dedicated to sharing and performing high quality choral music. “Their gift,” Mills said, “provided the means to purchase much needed risers with safety railings, cables and cords for the new sound system, professional grade choir folders for the Vaughn Choir, and five new djembes for the music classroom.
“These generous gifts exemplify how supportive our community is of the arts and its desire to see music programs flourish,” she said. “In return, there will be future musical performances by Vaughn students able to shine on stage. Thank you for making a difference in our schools.”
“At the start of the show I felt so enthusiastic!” Isabella Rosenberger said. “When I sing, I feel that I can sing anything. I feel free; like I can sing whatever I want.”
For Meilo Madrid, “The more you practice something, the better you will get.” To classmate Kiera Mays, “When you’re on stage, it’s just like, ‘Wow!’ I can’t believe I’m doing this because there are so many people watching me. It makes so many memories. This concert is a special moment that won’t happen again.”
Kylah Sparks said, “At our spring concert, the school was singing like crazy!”
“I liked it when we got to choose a song to play because it is really fun to play songs on the xylophones,” said Belle Hansen. “I played a solo, and I like to hear myself. It is fun to hear the notes, and I like to listen to the music.”
“It makes me feel so happy to sing with all my friends,” Naomi Sniadoski said.
“I would like Mr. McMillan to come to every concert that we do!” said Eddie Beaver. “Thank you for taking pictures of us.”
You are very welcome, Eddie!
Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at email@example.com.