About a year ago one of our NCIMTA members, Michelle Roeske, had a dream of our local association sponsoring a Monster Concert. She pictured up to eight pianos filled with students on stage at McHale Performing Arts Center in Logansport and a guest conductor of national stature. That dream came true on Saturday, October 20.
Late last spring three of us met to consider whether and how we might undertake such a venture. We are a very small local association; could we pull it off? We decided to go for it. We consulted with a variety of groups throughout the state who had undertaken similar projects. Their suggestions and advice were a huge help.
We wanted to generate lots of enthusiasm among local teachers and students. We knew we needed more students than just our own, and we hoped to entice teachers who were not already members to enter students and even join our association. We would need a very special guest conductor to help accomplish this. Why not Melody Bober? We had experienced Melody as a presenter and knew that her enthusiasm and energy would be just the ticket. Not only that, but our students absolutely love her compositions; they would be thrilled to meet and work with her!
We decided to make the concert available for any student from kindergarten age to adult. We came up with a theme, Music Around the World, and planned to write a script to go with it. With that in mind, we sat down to look through repertoire. This was no easy task, but we finally came up with a list, including a piece for teachers only.
We then emailed a packet of materials (letter of description, registration form, repertoire list, and advertising and sponsorship forms) to area teachers. In the end, nine area teachers participated, and we gained two new members.
Melody flew in on Friday, October 19. After a dinner with teachers, she gave a teacher workshop. Her creativity and fresh ideas were just what we needed as a “pick-me-up” at the end of a long day.
Saturday morning and afternoon were full of rehearsals. Melody was very complimentary of students’ level of preparation. Our rehearsals actually ran ahead of schedule through much of the day. Her enthusiasm, energy level, and demeanor with the students was highly engaging; she brought suckers for all the participants and rehearsed bowing with each group. Her own unique extra touches contributed to making the event not just a concert but a real production. For example, Melody had brought a variety of percussion instruments to add a touch of cultural flavor to a few selections. For her Grand Celebration March near the end, she had us add snare and bass drums and cymbals. She asked the players for Take Me Out to the Ball Game to bring back a baseball cap for the concert. Then at the concert she asked the audience to sing along with a repeat of the song; at the end all the pianists threw their caps in the air.
We had lots of help to make this concert a success. Piano Solutions of Carmel gave us a discounted price on the use and transportation of the pianos. Local individuals, groups, and businesses donated sponsorship money or took out display ads in the program. IMTA helped us with a $200 local association grant. Kathy Elkins put together the program booklet and ads. Nancy Spahr wrote the script, which tied the musical theme together and helped fill the time as one group of players departed the stage while another took its place. Michelle Roeske coordinated the T-shirt project so that each participant would have a T-shirt to promote our group and the event. As General Project Director, she also took care of the myriad other details that are so necessary for everything to run smoothly.
The Logansport Pharos Tribune gave us a great article with color photos on the front page the next day. We were thrilled to have a large crowd for the concert and have been basking in the compliments from parents and others who attended. Our students had a great time and are asking when we can do this again.
Monday, October 29, we met to evaluate the concert and talk about the future. We all decided we want to have another concert—in two years. We made a list of things we would like to do differently or improve for the future. We think we met all our goals and more!