Side-by-Side concert set for Thursday in Pinckney

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Children are born with more potential strengths than all the spines on a porcupine. The problem is, so many get stuck in the wrong places.

Formal education certainly plays a major role.  But the real secret to success is found in exploring the wide variety of opportunities needed to develop the potential of each student to the utmost.

Intellect and talent rank high among their strengths. Parents have the greatest responsibility to lead their children to explore their personal potential. Dedicated teachers are indispensible.

My high school band was pretty bad. We were actually worse than bad. We were awful.

There may have been a bit of glimmering talent among some members of our high school band. But we were marginally trained as musicians. Our music program offered a limited selection of instruments and music. Most of all, we lacked the level of community support needed to coax kids to express their talents.

When I arrived in Hamburg a half-century ago, one of my first civic responsibilities involved marching from the village to the local cemetery on Memorial Day. The local high school band followed behind us, offering some marching music.

I quickly noticed how much they sounded like my old high school band. Their efforts at furnishing music made me feel right at home. Clearly something was lacking. Perhaps there was a shortage of talent. More likely, a lack of training, the same as my old high school band.

Fortunately, circumstances have changed dramatically since those days of long ago. Around the time our four kids were in high school, music education in the Pinckney Schools underwent a remarkable transition.

Looking back over the years, I attribute that upward progression to the arrival of two special music teachers. Gail Winn excelled in choral work. Ed Jones upgraded the band. Under their direction, rapid changes took place. Our own kids still recall being part of a complete stage production of “Jesus Christ, Super Star.”

That was only the beginning. Opportunities have multiplied over the years.

I was recently stunned and amazed by an outstanding production of “Legally Blonde” at Pinckney High School Auditorium. The student cast proves that the talent is there. But it takes a lot of work to translate talent into performance.

On Thursday evening this week we intend to enjoy the thirteenth annual “Side-by-Side Concert” at Jane Tasch Auditorium. Music students ranging from fifth to twelfth grades will dare to sit side-by-side and perform with professional musicians from the Ann Arbor Symphony Orchestra.

I never enjoyed such an opportunity. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed it until it was all over.

How the youngsters manage their emotions under such pressure is a mystery to me. I can almost feel a rising sense of fear and awe at the thought of tooting on my old baritone horn in the presence of a professional brass player.

As it turns out, “reading, writing and arithmetic” represent only the beginning of the development of the full array of talents each student brings to school. A trio of local music teachers works hard every day to ready students of all ages to sit side-by-side with professionals on this special occasion.

Maestro Arie Lipsky, director of the Ann Arbor Symphony, will raise his baton on Thursday evening to direct a series of orchestras raging from fifth grade to high school seniors. We will also be appreciating the leadership of Jeff Campbell, Rachael Palajak, and Chris Sutton whose daily efforts have led their students into this wider world of expression.

The thirteenth annual “Side-by-Side Concert” at Tasch Auditorium on Thursday evening this week promises to be an awesome experience. We are personally grateful for a community willing to provide the support needed to carry the talents of our grandchildren to a higher stage of development.

About Carl Welser 3 Articles
Carl Welser is a reverend, and a former firefighter with the Hamburg Fire Department. Email him at

1 Comment

  1. Thank you Carl for those nice comments. It’s great to be thought of in such humbling memories. The real thanks goes to all the students and parents who worked so hard to elevate our program to what it is today. Without them and the tremendous directors we have now, the students and the program would be lost. Many thanks to our administration for not allowing this to happen. Again, my sincere thank you to all. Edward Jones

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