Welcome back to the Hilltop. Today’s post was written on November 21, 2014, minutes after watching the Blues Band perform. I held onto this because I knew a video (below) of the concert was on its way. Enjoy the post and especially the music— it will start your new year on a great note.
My eyes welled up. Again.
Not only again. For the thirteenth straight year.
By the second song of the Blues Band concert, overcome by the talent, courage, and joy of St. Luke’s students and teachers making music on the Seldin Performing Arts Center stage, I wept with my own joy.
As a first-year head of school thirteen years ago, I didn’t know what the Blues Band concert was, or what to expect from it. Now, even though I have seen it every year, it still reaches deep into me and reminds me why I love our school. No other school that I know of does anything remotely like this concert, always performed for students on the last full class day before the Thanksgiving break. Nothing reveals more vividly the power of teachers and students collaborating and creating together.
And nothing reveals more vividly the power of gifted and devoted leadership, with the combined efforts of Bob Leinbach and Peter Valera inspiring both students and teachers to push their limits. I feel a blend of awe and gratitude for these two teachers, as do their students.
Blues Band is no diversion, not simply an easy way for us to give students a break from demanding academics. Blues Band is about learning and everything that goes into learning. Teamwork. Effort. Risk-taking. Creativity. Passion. Practice. And, not least, Blues Band is about feeling alive. Why shouldn’t we do that in school? You put in the hard work and sustained practice to learn an instrument, to develop your voice, to learn a song, to push beyond any amount of ability or courage you thought you had. The payoff: a performance that elicits joy, community, and appreciation.
To say nothing of a grateful head of school.