Spring Concert and the Story of the Creation

| March 15, 2015 | 2 Replies

On Friday night, my husband and I attended the Frühlingskonzert, or Spring Concert, at my daughter’s local German public elementary school. I am about to discuss several interesting aspects of this concert, starting with the best part–the champagne–and ending with the surprising part–the religion.

ALCOHOL IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS

woman kari drinking champagne

Because Germany.

At my daughter’s school functions, it is not uncommon to find refreshments, including alcoholic beverages. 1.50E got me a flute of champagne. Obviously this would not fly in American public schools. Last night’s concert also included soft pretzels (sweet or salty), beer, and other beverages. Eventually, there was a kid walking around selling pretzels, leading me to hope that he’d start barking, “Get your Brezeln hier!”   Alas, he did not.

THE ARTS IN PUBLIC SCHOOL

Before moving on to the most surprising topic of the concert, I must mention the emphasis on the Arts in our public elementary school. At a time when you hear about American schools cutting arts (and physical education), my second grade daughter’s school week, which involves only 17 hours of curriculum (yes, that says 17, and recesses are included in those numbers), includes Art and Music, as two separate classes, as well as Sport.  This year, my daughter’s school day ranges from 0755-1115 to 0755-1215. These hours vary by class; last year, her day started anywhere from first hour to third hour, and ended anywhere from fourth hour to sixth hour. And several of those hours are dedicated to the Arts, and physical education.

Typical art project, 1st grade

Typical art project, 1st grade

In addition to weekly inclusion of the Arts in the curriculum, there are opportunities for the children to participate in extracurricular activities; this includes musical instruments, chorus, and theater. Every child that wishes to learn a musical instrument must start with the Blockflöte, i.e. the recorder.

Our dog’s opinion of the recorder, 1st grade

 

In the third grade, students can begin learning another instrument. I cannot wait for third grade. Unfortunately, I suspect that her starting out on a new instrument next year will be no less painful than when she started on the recorder.  I guess I can wait for third grade.

During the year, the band and theater kids put on one or two performances. On Friday night, they put on a full-blown one-hour theatrical production with musical accompaniment. That is, the theater group acted while the band played and/or chorus sang. It should be noted that this was interpretive theater, which will be obvious when we get to the show.

Even when my ears were bleeding, which was much less than expected, I was impressed that they were able to pull this off with only first-through-fourth graders. Fourth grade is the last year of elementary school, which is neither here nor there except to say that the oldest children in this production were fourth graders. Second graders stayed after school one day to work on the art used in the show.  A large portion of the school was involved in the production in one way or another.

What was the show put on by the public school elementary students, you ask? The story of the Creation.

children's religious artwork

CHURCH IN THE PUBLIC SCHOOL

I have written before on the lack of separation of Church and State here in Germany. After all, the first day of school is held in the local church.  Kids go to the same church to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday—unless parents have opted out for their child. My daughter’s curriculum includes religion twice a week unless parents have opted out, in which case children can take Ethics classes.

separation of church and state

Last night’s performance, by the 1st through 4th grade elementary students at my daughter’s public school, was the story of the Creation. This interpretive theater production involved glow sticks, shadow puppets, images on a projector, and running through the auditorium while pulling a thin-tarp-like train, ruffling high above the audience’s head. Those who were seated, that is—it was standing room only in the auditorium. We arrived half an hour early and were in the next-to-last row.

Here’s a description of the concert with four short (you’re welcome) video clips. They are dark because the lights were off, and I left them dark for the privacy of the children participating in the production.

1. It opened with the band…

2. I nearly fell over when it was not as awful as I expected.

3. The chorus joined in…

4. I nearly fell over when they were in sync with the band.

5. The play began. Here’s a scene from when there was still darkness all over the land. Yes, those are glow sticks.

6. We had sky!

the story of the creation

7.  After what seemed like an eternity, we were only to land.

Me: What day was this?

Husband: What day was what?

Me: What day was land?

Husband: What?

Me:  Land.  What day did God make land?

Husband: I think the second.

Me: OH GOD.

8. The theater group handled dialogue, dancing, and, as seen here, shadow puppets and a screen where they “drew” the world as the show went along. All set to music.

My daughter played the recorder in six songs.  I actually had no idea how much involvement she had in the production.  I basically knew nothing.  Lest you think I found the entire production pleasing to my ears, that is most certainly not the case. There was a moment of mic feedback that caused all of the babies in the room to cry. That was less than ideal.

Since we are talking about the arts, I will close with this:

SCHOOL TRIPS

I have written about the Kindergarten class sleepover at her Kindergarten. The concept of children being away from their parents overnight with the school at a young age is not a foreign one. This year, however, my daughter enjoyed a two-night weekend getaway in a castle with the band, chorus, and theater groups.

Seriously?

Seriously?

In addition, supporting the importance of the Arts in school, my daughter’s first class field trip last year was to Hanau, to see a play; this year, in second grade, they traveled to the theater in Darmstadt for another play. After the children returned from the play they saw in Hanau, their next art project related to the show. Because the Arts.

children's artwork, the little witch, pastels

the witch from Kleine Hexe, 1st grade; pastels

I can only hope that when we return to the States, my daughter’s school has a similar respect for the Arts, even if it does mean more concerts…

 

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Category: Europe, Ex-pat Parenting, FAMILY, Germany, In Germany A Broad blog, Living in Germany, Uncategorized

About the Author ()

Kari Martindale is a writer and ESL instructor. She’s visited all 50 states and 37 countries, including many of the big cities of Europe and a ton of Christmas Markets. She spends her days straddling the fence between a sense of adventure and a sense of dread. She is married to what is clearly a patient man and has a daughter who, frustratingly, is just like her. Her academic and professional backgrounds are in linguistics and foreign languages. When she's not teaching ESL, she's writing. When she's not writing, she's thinking about her next trip.

Comments (2)

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  1. Doesn’t the serving of a glass of champagne at a recorder concert just prove there is a God?
    I laughed my way through this, as my kids were educated in local French Schools in Belgium and it brought back great memories. The choice of Ethics or not, sleepovers, and alcohol at kids events! We still have lots of the artwork but unfortunately playing the recorder didn’t lead onto a lifetime love of music or indeed any particular talents in the field. We always thought it was tough (or great depending on your views!) in the German system to have school finished my lunchtime…
    Have a great week
    Wren x

    • I don’t mind having school out so early, except knowing that we’ll head back to the States next year and I expect that her mind will explode when she finds out what all-day school is like–and somehow with less of the fun stuff in double the day. I have her in some extracurriculars here purely to lengthen her day and soften the blow.

      I’ll tell you, the religion vs. ethics aspect is a tough one! My husband I are not religious. We were, however, brought up with it, and therefore don’t see the harm. Meanwhile, my daughter LOVES religion and I have a hard time answering some of her questions about evolution and other matters. I also chose to keep her in religion so as to mitigate isolating the foreign kid from her classmates. That, and we feel that, with the primary religion in the US being Christianity, she should at least know what is going on.

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