Real Audiences

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of attending BUA’s annual Concerto Competition. Seven students performed solo pieces with piano accompaniment. Works ranged from Vivaldi, Popper, Glazunov, Mendelssohn, Bruch, Fauré, and Mozart. Our student soloists played the recorder, cello, piano, violin, and flute in front of several dozen friends, faculty, and family members. The performances were stunning; the students’ virtuosity evidenced years of practice, and I love that they chose – entirely voluntarily – to share their talents with this audience. The winner of the competition will perform the piece again, this time accompanied by the full BUA orchestra at our Spring Concert on May 3.

There is real power in having students share their work with an audience. Knowing that somebody else will see, hear, appreciate, and learn from your work makes school assignments more than intellectually enriching exercises; they become purposeful in a different way. Our music and theater programs are built around chances for performance, but they are not alone. The hallways around BUA are graced by student visual art. Our creative writers submit their work not just to BUA’s literary magazine, but increasingly to outside journals. History teachers are working with students to submit analytical writing to journals and to offer poster sessions of their research this spring. Our 9th graders in biology have a poster session coming up too, and more than a handful of our older students have had co-authored scientific papers published in their names. Perhaps the best known example is the senior thesis. Every year, in addition to their written work or artistic creations, our seniors present to an audience of peers and family members; they have to think about how to translate sometimes complex topics into language a lay audience can understand and engage with – a critical skill. Thinking about an audience for your work and communicating to that group adds a valuable layer to our students’ learning, and I’m grateful for our teachers’ work to help students find those outlets.

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