Summer Show Offs 2012

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I watched with amazement and pure joy as some of our Village children performed in Summer Show Offs at Huntsville High School. From the first beat, the crowd was captivated by the musical performances. Grandparents, parents and friends had a blast watching these kids strut their stuff.  And strut they did-singing, dancing and well, showing off!

The fast paced opening number “There’s No business like Show Business” set the tone for a “Free Ride” and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”. How appropriate that our kids got the opportunity to sing those magical words. There is no mountain high enough that they can’t climb. Our kids had such a great time and one child even cried that the week was over.

The memories that each child took away from that experience will last a lifetime and hopefully plant the seeds for lasting confidence and the joy of performance.

Meagan White Townsend was a fabulous director. Mike Chappell and Huntsville High did an amazing job hosting the event. Broadway would be proud!

Guilty Verdict

As I listen to the news reports regarding the guilty verdict in the Jerry Sandusky trial, I think about the children at University Place Elementary. I suspect that this has been a watershed moment in American history-that the powerful cannot take advantage of children and expect their secret will be kept by their victims. This is a story about courage-the courage to speak up, to step up and to rise above sometimes awful circumstances to expose the truth.

The numbers of children who are abused every year is staggering. At Village of Promise we have counselors available for children who are struggling with a emotional issues through our good friend and partner Family Services Center (www.fsc-hsv.org/). We hope to give a voice to the children of Village of Promise. We want them to express their dreams, to develop their talents and to continue their education. It is our hope that they will return to their communities and revitalize their neighborhoods. In essence, they will be heard.

We congratulate the courage of the victims and jurors in the Penn State abuse trial and recommend you check out the link to the National Children’s Advocacy Center (www.nationalcac.org/).

Strings That Sing

It has been my pleasure, or pain sometimes, to take violin lessons from Meagan Kish. She is our Strings That Sing (please link) violin teacher at University Place Elementary School. She is pretty, patient and kind-a winning combination for children indeed.

I have sung in choirs all my life, played the majestic massive piano for decades and thought that I could conquer a fragile violin in no time. Well, the violin is whipping me into total submission! I started violin lessons at the same time our 2nd graders at University Place began. This has given me a unique opportunity to travel the same musical road with our Village of Promise children.

First of all, violin mastery requires the exacting brain power similar to mathematics. The note played is either very right or it is REALLY wrong. It is easy to see the connection between higher academic achievement and instrumental mastery by how much one has to count, focus and concentrate. Violin bowing has its own set of demands. Using both arms to do something completely different in often contorted ways is surprisingly challenging. Pulling the bow correctly is almost athletic in its execution.

The violin is always a demanding master. It cannot be put away at a temperature that is too hot or too cold. It must be stored properly and treated with immense respect. Good lessons to learn early in life, are they not? Children learn to value the investment and treat the violin with care.

This musical experience requires intentional determination. Learning something new that is difficult can be discouraging but our children in Strings That Sing must be proud and excited to have persevered. There is a priceless payoff. To play and hear that sweet spot on the violin is truly like coaxing a captive bird to sing.

When I hear the lilting violin in orchestral music now I have a much greater appreciation for the tone, the warmth and the beauty of that great instrument. I hear the years of practice, intelligence and determination in every note. In fact, I actually am listening for it-and that is perhaps the greatest gift of all.

Jennifer B. Cash is Director of Communications for Village of Promise 
jcash@villagepromise.com
To see the Strings That Sing violin recital 2012 (link to video)