I have the great joy and privilege of conducting a wonderful children's string orchestra under the umbrella of a local youth symphony organization consisting of five large ensembles, a chamber music program, and more. Every spring after our final concert of the year, the orchestra has an "awards night" party consisting of cake and beverages for all and then individual smaller parties for each ensemble, when the conductors give awards to each student. It's so much fun to see the kids interact with each other and with me outside of the rehearsal setting - to chat with them informally, jam "Heart and Soul" on a piano together, and celebrate their achievements.
This year's string ensemble consisted of 23 wonderful kids. Victoria, who played her parts confidently and reliably. Lily, who played beautifully - and then smiled up at me guiltily any time she played a wrong note. Arya, whose big brown eyes watched me attentively for cues and cut-offs. James, who joined the group mid-year and worked hard to catch up with the more experienced students. Alexandre, who was my right-hand-man when it came to setting up the room for rehearsals. Alexis, whose bubbly personality and braces-clad grin made rehearsals fun for everyone. Mary Rose, whose infectious laugh, sweet personality, and love of music made me love her. Julia, who held down the cello section with her solid rhythm. I could go on and on!
I left the evening's festivities with a blooming azalea shrub to be planted in my yard from the executive director of the program, a gift certificate to this restaurant from all the families in my ensemble, a silver necklace and a scarf from Jocelyn and Julia, two lovely young ladies in the group, and a silly band (little stretchy bracelets kids all seem to be wearing and trading right now) from Maddie, a girl in the quartet I coached this year.
As I was leaving, Jeana, a girl from my group who will be auditioning to move to the next level ensemble, gazed up at me with big brown eyes and said, "I'm going to miss you, Miss Sarah."
So I left with full hands and a full heart. It's been a good year.