The band was back.
So were the parents, the siblings and the grandparents. Best of all, the teachers were back and in real person too. It was our local middle schoolers’ first concert since the pandemic shutdown over 14 months ago, and we were back to celebrate.
Parking our cars blocks away and dragging our own lawn chairs did not hinder our coming. Like swallows to San Juan Capistrano, we made our way to the middle school parking lot where we situated ourselves as if anticipation of a Ravinia Concert.
And even though we were outside, and the C.D.C. had recently muted the mask mandate, most of us showed up in masks anyway, including the musicians, all for good measure so to speak.
After a winter of despair, the warm sunshine, soft breezes and just the sight of so many gathered together again was a joy to behold. The young musicians’ toes tapped to the beat with delightful dedication; the music teachers conducted with jubilant enthusiasm; and the audience clapped as if this were a 2021 version of Woodstock.
No one would have guessed that these young musicians had spent hours rotating between Zoom, hybrid learning schedules, and days and months of isolation; or that our teachers had run a gauntlet to make it all happen. Yet despite all these challenges, this first in-person concert was a testament to the children’s spirit; their teachers’ perseverance; and their parents’ patience.
As the notes of trumpets, flutes, strings, and sounding cymbals soared above the prairie sunset like one strong beating heart, there seemed no words to express the collective gratitude of our souls. But it didn’t matter.
The children’s music said it all.
PHOTO CREDIT MARNIE O. MAMMINGA.