Pizza and puppies in Miami

From the Top alum and staff member Matthew Dykeman is on the ground in Miami at a week-long residency. He’s blogging about his experience – you can read his first post here.

Matt Dkyeman with students in Miami

This is quickly turning into one of the most awesome experiences I’ve had in my life. As the appointed “Pizza Czar” (I tried to negotiate a crown when accepting this title, but I was sadly rejected), I was responsible for coordinating the mass feeding of the 250 kids participating in our grand finale concert tonight and the dress rehearsal the night before. Round one last night was…I don’t even remember what happened. Pizza was flying left and right. A cookie hit me in the face. It was a frenzy of epic proportions. But somehow, we survived. And we get to do it again tonight! :D

But let’s forget about that for now. I am much more interested in sharing with you a hilarious story from one of our school visits on Tuesday. Our team visited three schools that day: a combined orchestra and band from Arvida Middle School, an orchestra and chorus from Mays Conservatory, and a string class from Pine Villa Elementary. Each one was a completely different experience and each Arts Leader was effective in their own way of expressing our motto for the week: “Love it, Own it, Share it”. After two sessions with the huge ensembles from Arvida and Mays, we found ourselves hanging out with seven young string students from Pine Villa. I decided it would be fun for them to create a story to the opening clarinet solo from George Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue”. This is one of my favorite musical excerpts to perform for kids, because it always gets them excited.

DISCLAIMER: The following eye-witness account attempts to capture the story created by adorable, tiny children wielding adorable, tiny instruments:

“Once upon a time, 101 Dalmations were hanging out in this very classroom. Everything was good, puppies were doing puppy stuff. All of the sudden, a bear bursts through the door! The Dalmations, obviously freaked out, run out of the building and into the nearby woods. With the bear hot on their heels, they didn’t even realize that there was a giant hole right in front of them until they were all tumbling down into it! Once the dust settled, the puppies started to search for a way out. The exit was discovered, but it was blocked by a…self-aware…Indian Buddha statue. The statue would only let them pass if they answered his riddle correctly. PLOT TWIST! They get it wrong!! They then find themselves trapped down in this hole for centuries. Thankfully they found a time machine that allowed them to stay alive that whole time (Admittedly, the scientific accuracy of this story gets a bit fuzzy. Just stay with me). Just when they were about to give up hope, their savior arrived! And her name…was Beyonce. She then took all the puppies to go live with her and everyone lived happily ever after.”

You feel that? It’s called excellence, and it’s washing over you.

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