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Band retools its summer program with Mikkelson concert

Lead Summary

The theme from Jurassic Park isn’t the easiest song in the world to play ... especially for sixth-grade musicians.But there was the Sixth Grade Concert on the Mikkelson Park band shell stage playing the piece on Tuesday night and maybe that’s the story that needs to be told about the New Hampton Summer Band Program.“It’s difficult, and we almost canned it,” New Hampton Middle School Band Director Jenny Adam said. “I told the students, ‘I’m not sure about this one,’ and they gave me that look that said ‘no way, we’re doing it.’ Challenge accepted and they ran with it.”And maybe that — Challenge Accepted — should have been the motto for the summer program that ended Tuesday night with the concert at Mikkelson.Although they all couldn’t make the concert, almost 140 band students in grades 5-12 participated in the summer program and Adam and her husband, New Hampton High School Band Director Justin Adam, couldn’t have been more pleased with the program.“The first thing,” she said, “is summer band is totally optional and to have that kind of participation was just awesome.”In the past, the summer program has been pretty traditional and lesson driven. This year, though, Jenny Adam asked her students after the Parade of Bands if they’d rather meet in “groups” rather than just have lessons?And the answer came back as an overwhelming yes.“I get that,” she said, “because when I think back to when I was in band, the fun stuff wasn’t the lessons, it was handing out with the other kids.”That led to the idea of holding an “end-of-the-summer” concert, which provided another carrot.“Usually in the summer, you do your lessons, which are important, but that’s it,” she said. “This way there was something to work toward.”So on Tuesday night, several bands and a unique percussion group in which students “played” trash cans performed for a crowd at New Hampton’s biggest park.Before the concert, the Chickasaw County Pork Producers served a meal for a free-will donation that will go to the New Hampton music programs.And both Adams said they saw plenty of growth during this year’s summer program.“I think it’s been fun to watch these kids take on new challenges and master them, too,” Justin Adam told the crowd. “The work they’ve put in this summer will pay off next year.”And Jenny Adam added it was “fun work.”“The trash can group, for example, wasn’t just percussionists,” she said. “It was just something fun musically some kids wanted to do.”But maybe the best part of Tuesday’s concert was the location.“It wasn’t that typical concert,” she said. “Yes, we had a lot of parents there, but it was cool to see people who don’t normally come to concerts come out and see our kids. And in turn, our kids ate that up.”

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