Star-Spangled Banner – 2009 Stanford Open

We were invited back to Burnham Pavilion on January 23-24, 2009, to perform for the 2009 Stanford Open gymnastics meet. This time, we got to play for the packed house at the NCAA men’s meet on Saturday night. It was a rambunctious crowd, but all fell silent the moment we took our bow and put our violins up. Still in silence, we set our bows, and from that cavernous space emerged our first note. That moment of silence just before the first note is always the most magical, and also the scariest. On the “Star-Spangled Banner”, which starts on an up-beat, I can only use eye contact with the players and a short inhale to indicate when we begin. The rest is just group rhythm. We have to rely on our well-trained senses after that.

I’m always amazed when we actually do it. We practice, we prepare mentally and physically, but we never know what’s going to happen in a performance until we do it. This year, there were 11 students, ages 6 through 9, on our team of players. We had earned our place there, and we filled that space with a sound and poise that honored the opportunity we had been given. The “Star-Spangled Banner” experience is always filled with growth for the individual students and the collective. They learn to prepare well, to listen to each other, and to deliver a performance with confidence, even under potentially nerve-wracking conditions.

Thanks for sharing this step on our journey of personal development through music performance!

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