Chicago 2010 – Part Seven

Chicago-BreakfastMorning arrived way too early; breakfast was scheduled for 5:45am.

This was the first time we’d taken a strings group to competition in addition to the band so we weren’t sure how much time we’d need to get both groups ready. After the kids packed up all their stuff they hit the breakfast buffet, then found ways to occupy themselves until it was time for the morning devotion.


Chicago-WaitingSome played games or sat in a catatonic state.


Chicago-Musical GlassesOthers made music with their water glasses.

It reminds me of a group of band students who played Beethoven’s Fifth blowing across soda bottles of various sizes in a talent show when I was student teaching. That was incredible – they had the bottles tuned perfectly.


Chicago-Kids GatheringStill others sat around and chatted. It’s amazing how much quieter they are when they’re tired.


Chicago-SleepingShhhhh…Don’t wake Shannon, we need her later…


Chicago-DevotionAt 7:15 we had a devotion, then last-minute announcements and reminders before boarding the buses.


Chicago-BikersThese bicyclists were the most interesting sight on the drive to the high school where we were scheduled to perform.


Chicago-Parking LotWe arrived at the school with plenty of time to spare. The first order of business was unloading the instruments, then we decided there was enough time to take our traditional group photo before our performance instead of after like we usually did.


Chicago-Kids Mulling AroundGetting these guys lined up for a photo isn’t going to be easy…


Chicago-Group PhotoBut we did it! Don’t we look great?

Do you recognize my dress? I was so happy to have a reason to wear it again! Since it matches the kids’ uniforms so well I’ll be wearing it in concerts and performances for the next couple of years. Yea!

After the group photo I had to put my camera away and start thinking about our performance. While the strings were performing I took the band into the auditorium to hear another band play. Then it was time to get our instruments and warm up for our performance.

The first time I directed for the Music in the Parks competition I was a bundle of nerves and felt like I was going to throw up the whole time we were on the school grounds. This year I wasn’t nearly as nervous, although my palms were rather sweaty. I hate directing with sweaty palms; I always worry that the baton will slip out of my hand and go flying into the band.

The kids played wonderfully – it was one of the best performances of these pieces that I’d ever heard them give! Looking back I wish I’d given my camera to one of the parents, but at the time I was too focused on the music and helping the kids give a great performance that I didn’t even think of it.

As we walked to the buses after our performance you could just see the tension leaving the kids. Although they had enough self-discipline to walk calmly through the parking lot it was obvious from the spring in their steps and the smiles on their faces that they were looking forward to the rest of the day.

We quickly packed up the instruments, changed into our band tees and comfy clothes for Great America (boys on one bus, girls on the other) then headed for lunch in the food court of a local mall.


Chicago-LunchThe food court is “George Jetson -1960’s futuristic space age” themed and actually rather fun. An added advantage to being in a mall is that if you’ve forgotten something there’s usually time to get a new one.


Chicago-Authentic MexicanTeacher and I were thrilled to find authentic Mexican food in the food court. I’m not talking Taco Bell, I’m talking chorizo with raw onion and cilantro and shredded beef with onion, cilantro and avocado, and a side of spicy marinated carrots, zucchini and cauliflower. Yum-O!!!


Chicago-TeacherHow much time do we have before we need to be at the buses? Oooh – there’s time to hit the mall for dessert; after good Mexican I always crave chocolate.

To be continued…

Amy Sue


  1. well instead of having your baton leave your hand and head into the group of kids, a few years back our handbell choir was rehearsing and the windows in the room were open. They were the kind that tilted out. Curt’s baton not only flew out of his hand, but flew out the window farthest from him that was open without hitting anything until it landed upright in the middle of the bush below the window next to the parking lot. We still have yet to let him live that one down.

    • Wow! I wish I were that talented. Mostly I just knock the baton off the music stand to the floor where it rolls under the flutes’ or clarinet’s feet until they manage to grab it and hand it back to me. It makes me feel really stoopid, but they’ve gotten used to it. I suppose it’s better than breaking the end of it off hitting the stand like other directors I know…

      ~Amy Sue

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.