North Tahoe Jazz Band dazzles during annual Goodwill Tour
TAHOE CITY, Calif. — On April 30, the North Tahoe High School Jazz Band’s 20 musicians took their music on the road for their annual Goodwill Tour.
This year’s endeavor found us in Anaheim, Calif., and surrounding areas, including Venice Beach. Students spend all year fundraising and collecting generous donations to take three and a half days to present their gift to people who may not always get a chance to enjoy live music.
Three performances were for an elementary school, and each performance was a different age group. The first- and second-graders were awe-struck, the third- and fourth-graders could barely contain themselves, and the fifth- and sixth-graders were a bit too cool to show emotion, but could not stop talking about, us according to teachers. My students felt like rock stars and played wonderfully.
Three performances were for the elderly, and with a change in music and attitude, our students played for those who often times get lost in the shuffle of a fast-moving world.
With big band charts came a flood of memories of times better remembered. After each performance, our students gave the residents a flower and some conversation time.
Lucas Earley, baritone sax player, said that the assisted living and manor care places are so rewarding to him. Those at the manor care facility showed little emotion as far as we could see, but the activities coordinator said we generated more response than she has seen in along time.
The seniors at the assisted living facility, meanwhile, danced in their wheelchairs and sang merrily at every song. The retirement home clapped with joy and cried with memories, all the while applauding our students.
We played for seven students in one concert, which was probably the best show. The Braille Institute had seven visually impaired or totally blind kids aged 6-12 come to our show.
With only ears to see, their faces shone with delight when “Let it Go” from Frozen played. Before the show, Matt, the youth director, gave our students a lesson on working with the blind and even had our students practice with blindfolds.
The blind students proved to be excellent in their favorite game of Marco Polo, and NTHS students relished in play time.
We also played at Venice Beach, where the drummer from the beach who opted to play with us showed his toothless grin and insisted we play some more.
With all that, here is how our students impact in ways words cannot describe.
At the conclusion of the retirement performance, a lady disappeared momentarily. When we were just about ready to leave, she hurried her wheelchair to give us a gift — a simple tuning fork.
She said, “let me explain…” Paraphrasing her words, she told us that music was a huge part of her life. In fact, she was one of the first women to play trumpet in a big band. She and her brother formed their bond through music.
When he died, she wanted three things: a piece of music they played, a picture and a tuning fork. These were her most prized possessions.
She gave NTHS Jazz Band the tuning fork as a symbol of the importance music and kindness represent in today’s times. Of the trophies our group has earned, none means more than that tuning fork.
It is a pleasure to work with these amazing students and what they did for 700 people that weekend is indeed remarkable. Making a small difference in the lives of many makes a huge difference in the long run.
Thank you students for taking the time to offer kindness and music. Your hard work is appreciated more than you know. I am so proud of you.
Dean Nordby is Band Director at North Tahoe High School.