Christmas Concert

Yesterday my friend and I went to hear Christmas music performed by the Valley Community Chorus and accompanied by the San Luis Valley Community Band. The event was held at Sacred Heart Church in Alamosa, a beautiful hybrid between Romanesque and Gothic in style, patterned on the prevailing style of mission churches in this part of the West. It has wonderful acoustics. The community to which the chorus sang and the band played — and from which they draw for members — is as a big as Connecticut with a population around 60,000. There’s a lot of driving involved for some of them.

My friend and I are both retired teachers. It’s pretty obvious, I think. Strangers have said, “You must be retired teachers.” I don’t know how they knew that (I think I’m a punk rocker, yes I am) but as I looked around me yesterday, at the listeners and the performers, I reached the same conclusion. A lot of retired teachers. One giveaway was the prevalence of Christmas sweaters of a certain style. 

At one point in the concert, the director (who, I assume, is also a teacher) asked, “How many of our choir and band developed their love of music in public school?”

Most of the participants raised their hands. I started to clap loudly, and there followed a ripple then a roar of applause. I might never want to teach anyone anything again as long as I live and regret that I didn’t stay with Head Ski, get free skis and do marketing, but damn. Without schools? We would all miss out on what matters most in life — and that’s not our job. It’s what the band leader referred to as our “avocations.”

The high school in my town takes its band very seriously and the band wins prizes. There’s a big sign on the east end of town listing all the times the band won best in state. Since the high school is two blocks from my house, I get to hear them practice marching for parades. I love it. I’m proud of them. I get goosebumps when I see them going up and down the streets trying to keep in time and walk simultaneously. It’s the teacher in me. I look at youth in the act of aspiring and I’m moved.

Yesterday I looked at the retired teachers all around me, and I thought, “We never fully drop that torch. We always believe in it,” and I was moved.

17 thoughts on “Christmas Concert

  1. Yes, teaching is an avocation, one you never “don’t have” any more. I have a grandson in his senior year who is a talented musician, plays trombone and baritone, and has participated in a nation summer marching band competition where he has learned SO much! He’s the leader of the brass section, has made it to All-State, truly loves to play. His teachers have been a wonderful influence, and I’m delighted with them and him.

  2. Once a teacher, always a teacher in our hearts! We have some amazing music teachers in our community! The hours and dedication they put in rivals any coach!

  3. I had some wonderful teachers and so did my children. My son’s high-school band teacher is a gem of a woman. Long may she live. She established the band program at her first high school, and then started another when she moved schools. Band and music wasn’t really a thing in public high schools before she started the program. It was something only elite private schools offered. Her initiative was taken up by many other public high schools in the region. I have no doubt that without her, my son would not be alive today.

  4. I “fully” retired in 2012. But I still underline, or have the red pen handy–just in case. Always a teacher… Similar to “You can take the boy out of the Catholic, but you can’t take the Catholic out of the boy.” So much of that good teacher ed remains.

  5. I got goosebumps reading how you can watch the band march up and down your street to practice. That has to be some kind of wonderful.

  6. At least no one guesses I’m a retired tech writer. Probably because no one knows what that looks like.

    There are some lovely little concerts in local churches and we sometimes go for the music. But no bigger concerts. Noplace in the valley for a bigger group except up in Worcester.

    • Down here I think being a certain age, being female, being white and a few other factors make retired teacher the only bet. There are not many professions here, but there are a lot of schools. You’d be mistaken for a retired teacher, too.

      Our community choir does two concerts a year, the second Friday and the second Sunday in December. I don’t know if any of the churches in my town have choirs — most are pretty small.

  7. I’m also moved when I see youth ‘aspiring’ and get goosebumps when I hear the marching band! But I’m not a retired teacher, just a person with a teacher’s heart.

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