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Creating Fun and Joyful Music with Mr. Saoud

My goal for the percussion program has always been to offer musical experiences and opportunities available nowhere else, to produce lifelong music makers at home and in the community, and to instill a love of music and an appreciation for the arts in each student. As our lives have been altered over the last many months, we have turned to art and music to provide not only a sense of normalcy, but to give us the means to cope with the stress and anxiety that has arisen during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The ability of our students to listen to music and engage in the music-making process may be more important now than ever before.

Over the course of this year, the beauty they create will enrich their lives; their hearts will be filled by the joy they give and share with others; they will express what words cannot; they will begin to look into their souls and understand what brings them happiness. The theme in my classes for this year is: Fun! Nothing more, nothing less. No expectation, no stress, no anxiety. We will focus on having fun, creating enjoyable music, and sharing it with our community. 

While COVID requires me to rethink how I manage the curriculum and the classroom, the focus on bringing students new opportunities remains.  The advanced percussion students are assisting me in composing and recording the soundtrack to a new film by Episcopal alum Carter Bowden (2018).  The short film is based upon the COVID-19 pandemic and should be completed by Thanksgiving.  Intermediate percussion students are studying the art of Japanese Taiko drumming for an upcoming recording of the piece, Taiko. 

Many conferences and workshops across the country are being cancelled, postponed, or shifted to a virtual format.  The Percussive Arts Society International Conference (PASIC) in November is no different.  Our normal plan of traveling with a small group of juniors and seniors to the event in Indianapolis will be replaced with ALL of our students attending virtually.  The percussion classroom will become a concert hall for our students to attend live recitals, workshops, and hands-on clinics.  Students will watch and participate as if attending in person.  I am very excited to bring this experience to all of my students, hopefully whetting their appetite for a trip to Indy in the coming years. 

Physical distancing is not a problem for my middle school students as we learn about the traditions of West African music.  Our new fine arts formatting in middle school allows every sixth grader to experience 4-½ weeks of percussion, and we are making the most of our time together.  The beautiful spaces on our campus are perfect for moving the classroom outside, spreading out, and having fun. 

Our Fall percussion newsletter has more information about our program, current student activities and projects, and upcoming events. 

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