Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Very Merry Christmas

A Review of the ORMTA Hamilton-Halton Chapter’s Student Recital, December 4, 2011
 Written for: ORMTA Hamilton-Halton Chapter
By: Glen Brown, OCT

Music teachers reign supreme over the world of order and beauty. Children’s music teachers need an additional, heaping helping of loving-kindness. Much to my pleasure, all three were evident at the recent Christmas recital featuring the piano students of the Hamilton-Halton chapter of the Ontario Registered Music Teachers’ Association - ORMTA. In a world where children’s recitals are risk-bound with all kinds of possible drawbacks, ranging from being extremely long and sleep-inducing, to the worst-case scenario where a child’s innocent mistake becomes an occasion for laughter and embarrassment, I was greatly pleased to see that this event, organized by our area’s top independent music teachers, triumphed in all areas.

Credit is due to the organizers in a number of areas. Seating the children near the aisle in program order seemed awkward at first, but the wisdom of it soon came to light, since it was easily visible to the children when their turn came, and easy for them to get to the piano. What a great time saver. The raffle of Charlie Christmas Tree, held in memory of “a very imaginative, creative and musical” child Martha-Ann Ena, was a touching tribute to the joy music brings, and it set the tone for a reflective mood. Saint Matthews-on-the-Plains Church was well suited to an audience of this size, and its grand piano with the lid propped fully open added a sense of class and finesse to every child’s performance, even though a few of them struggled to get their toes to touch the ground!

The real stars of the recital were the children. I counted 39 in all. As the group gathered for a photo session afterward, the cameras flashed like a celebrity photo-op. As I reflected on the program I was glad to have heard a wide range of age and skill development and also a substantial variety of musical styles. With such an overwhelming variety of music being published, it’s good to see our teachers are not afraid to introduce the children to new material. My personal favourite was Telfer’s When Rivers Flowed On Mars performed by Alexa McBain. The song’s title evoked images that perfectly matched her flowing, dark and mysterious feeling. Paige Alliston’s rendition of W. Gillock’s Moonlight Mood gave fitting tribute to Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. Ben Moon and George Hu teamed up to crank out a stirring version Tchaikovsky’s Russian Dance “Trepak” from Nutcracker, staying perfectly together during the accelerando finish. And a final delight was young Naoise McCarthy playing a richly arranged variation of We Wish You A Merry Christmas by Goldston. These few I’ve mentioned are representative of the entire cast of children, all of them doing their very best, and with their teachers’ support they all went away with a positive experience.

After all, making music must be a joyful experience. Thanks to the participating ORMTA teachers Scott Ashley, Andrea Battista, Tiiu Haamer, Kamara Hennessey, Beverly Klugh, Olga Tcherniak, and Angie Williams. Well done!

Editor's note: The Ontario Registered Music Teacher's Association - ORMTA - has over 1300 members in 35 branches across the province. The Hamilton-Halton Region Branch has some sixty members, and has been around for more than sixty years.

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