Leoti has had more than our fair share of excellent band and music teachers. The current choir teachers are Jayme Brown-Bishop and Tori Flaherty-Koehn. Allen Brockmeier is the band director. Mrs. Bishop teaches vocal music to Kindergartners through 6th graders. Mrs. Koehn teaches the rest of the students from 7th grade on up. All three teachers are simply superb and give their all in providing the best vocal and instrumental music around!
When our son was still in grade school, the kindergartners through second graders were always adorable to look at but most of us could never understand what they were singing. That is not the case here anymore. It was remarkable tonight how each and every class sang their songs so that each and every word was easily understandable! That doesn't happen accidentally. Extremely talented music teachers make it happen through their teaching.
Mrs. Bishop has started a tradition here with her Christmas programs. Instead of the audience just hearing one song after another, she actually has the kids perform a musical. The kids enjoy it just as much as the adults do! Even though the high school auditorium is always full, most of the children who have solo speaking or singing parts, do great in front of the large number of people in the audience. The grade school students adore Mrs. Bishop! I often hear them speak of her very kind and sweet personality. She really has a way with the kids!
I probably shouldn't single out just one music student but I just cannot help myself!!! People search through the students to find Lane Wells! What a ham he is!!! Even when he is not trying to make people laugh, people laugh almost hysterially at his antics and adorable personality. Mrs. Bishop knows what she is doing when she places him in the center of the stage. Lane's parents are Jason and Gwen Wells. His grandparents are Ann Wiles and the late Bob Wiles and Steve and Jeanie Wells. Keep it up, Lane! We all enjoy you so very much!!!
What can I say about Mr. Brockmeier? The better question is "where do I start?" He moved to Leoti a few years back and went right to work on kids who wanted to learn to play instruments. Many of his students go on to receive top-notch ratings at regionals and state festivals. Some are so good that they receive college scholarships! Before you can go to college on a trumpet scholarship, you must first learn the fundamentals which most learn from the 5th grade in Leoti.
Tonight, as we "critiqued" the band and choir from our front row seats, we mused at just how professional his 5th and 6th graders sound and look already! The kids love him and it shows that he loves them just as much.
Mrs. Bishop and Mr. Brockmeier are both very popular with their students. Because of how much the kids love and respect their teachers, they put forth their best foot possible to please the teachers.
I must admit that I was saddened tonight when the 6th graders took their places on the stage for band. Back in the days when I was in school (just before sunshine had been invented), we had many students involved in the band program. I graduated in 1980. Back then, there were 12-15 people playing clarinets, 8 or 9 playing trumpets... Since then, many people from Wichita County have packed up and moved on down the road. Even though our population appears to be growing again, there is a small amount of students involved in the grade school band program. As with any band just getting started, it is only to be expected that an occassional squeak of a clarinet will be heard. I am sooo grateful that when I was in band back in the dark ages that there were so many clarinet players. That way when a clarinet squeaked or squaked, it was more difficult to determine who did it. (It was usually none other than ME!!) Today, with only two clarinet players, it's a bit easier to decifer "who done it." LOL!!!
One of the reasons that I personally think that we have such a strong band program is because of the work that Mrs. Bishop does with her students on various musical instruments before 5th grade when students are allowed to play band instruments.
I am so proud of our music directors in Leoti! You're all very special and Wichita County is very fortunate to have each and every one of you!
If I had any complaints on the program it would be just this one itty bitty thing. Given the fact that I heard others sitting in our general location, commenting on the same thing, I know that I was far from being the only irritated person. I think that people with cameras need to either stay put at their seats or move to one side of the auditorium or the other and STAY THERE!!! It was so rude, at least as far as we were concerned, that a couple of people were constantly moving from one side of the room to the other to take pictures. The students' attention that was supposed to be focused on the instructor was being shifted to this person or that person who continuously walked between the stage and the seats. Ugh...
Anyway, our thanks go out to Mrs. Bishop, Mrs. Koehn and Mr. Brockmeier for all that you do with our children to educate them on other things than writing and arithmetic! Today with all of the economic woes and taxation problems that we face, MANY schools are choosing to drop music and art education so that their school districts can save money. I sincerely hope that that never happens in Wichita County! Every school district has students who are not as good in reading, math, etc as they would like to be. By having the avenue of being in music, band or some other art program, they are able to find another avenue where they, too, can excel.
Speaking of art, Mrs. Paul (Martha) Myers needs to be applauded for her amazing artwork that she produced for tonight's Christmas program! Many of us were talking about how darling it all was!