Local melodies

The Bucks County Music Educators Association’s annual music festival will take place next week at Bensalem High School.


By Jillian Santacroce

Students across the county in seventh through 12th grade have been preparing for the Bucks County Music Educators Association’s annual music festival since the November 2016 and January 2017 blind auditions. This year’s event will take place on March 16, 17 and 18 at Bensalem High School, located at 4319 Hulmeville Road.

The association hosting the festival strives to advance music education in schools within the county and fosters relationships between music teachers and school administrators.

This occasion is one way for the BCMEA to apply those objectives, as well as the other goals mentioned within its bylaws.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to get to work with kids who love to sing and want an experience outside of school,” said middle school choir guest conductor Melissa Keylock. “There’s such an electric energy in the air when kids come together in a festival-type situation.”

Family, friends and county residents are invited to the festival for a small fee to see the guest conductors and about 500 students in action.

The high school and middle school choirs will perform at 7 p.m. on Friday, March 17. The high school and middle school orchestras are scheduled for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 18. The students selected for the high school and middle school bands will go on stage at 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 18.

Spectators can expect fresh content every year. Keylock reviewed a library of music dating as far back as 1996 to make sure her six song selections will not be too repetitive.

Each guest conductor has creative control over which pieces will be featured in his program. For Keylock’s middle school choir group, she chose a “diverse background of repertoire” for the students to study, which will showcase different cultures and time periods.

The selected participants get their program’s music selections and are responsible for learning the material with their teachers. The students do not practice together until the rehearsal a day before the concert.

“The music teachers really bake the cupcake and I just get to put the frosting on top,” said Keylock. “They do all the work of keeping the notes and the rhythm and then I get to come and give my interpretation and bring the kids together from all the different ways that they prepared it with their teacher and then we unify it.”

Keylock sees the event as not only an enriching learning experience for the children, but also as a way for music lovers from different schools to bond since they share the same passion of music. The music can be a strong factor in initiating lifelong friendships.

She views every performance as the students’ way of giving their listeners a “present” in the form of an inspirational message through the song lyrics.

“When we read the news or go on Facebook, there’s so much discouragement and discouraging things going on,” said Keylock. “When we can get a chance to see young people working very hard to present something that will share joy, that’s a meaningful thing. ”

Music educators who would like to become a part of the BCMEA are encouraged to fill out a membership enrollment form. The application can be found at bcmea.org/index.html. ••

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