By Melissa Ford
Finally, I loosened my grip on my beloved saxophone and donated it to PING! I covered all the bases: Doug Cannon at Austin Music Center appraised my instrument for charitable donation purposes; Susan Parks, President of PING! board, brought me up to date on the mission of PING! and I handed off my alto sax to Darla Patterson, PING! board member and Inventory Co-Chair.
There was one thing left to do: Attend the PING! Mentor Program Showcase featuring musical entertainment by PING! middle school music students and their OPRF High School student musician mentors.
When I arrived the music room was teeming with parents, grandparents, siblings, students and PING! supporters. There was excitement in the air as family members awaited their students’ solos and duets. Young siblings watched for older brothers and sisters, clapping enthusiastically as they finished their musical numbers from “Pink Panther” to “Colors of the Wind.”
Yet, the music wasn’t the only attraction; the pride these young artists exhibited was palpable as they performed then bowed before their audience. Family members looked on with joy, snapping pictures and applauding their child's efforts while the audience moved and bobbed to the beat.
My favorite moment came when a PING! middle school musician and her high school mentor played “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” inspiring a young audience member to join in, enthusiastically belting out the lyrics. A women sitting next to me, delighted at the fervent response, leaned over and whispered, “That’s my grand-baby playing. I have two grand-babies performing tonight!” I was so touched by her desire to share her pride and joy.
The 2011 PING! Mentor Program Showcase went above and beyond PING!’s vision: “Instruments in their hands . . . music in their lives” and I’d like to add, “And, pride and joy in their hearts!”