Well today was my concert with the ACAMIS (assocition of Chinesse and Mongolian International Schools) Middle School Cultural Covention. My understanding before I came over here was the this was a convention of students in Tianjin coming together to play in an honor group. Upon meeting the students, I learned that this is an honor group from all over CHINA! About half of the band flew from cities all over, some from Hong Kong area south of here, and some from east china. It was a great experience getting to know them, rehearsing them, and seeing them come from friday morning's first rehearsal to saturday's concert. Not unlike most honor bands that I have done, but the difference was, these kids had never done any kind of honor band like this before and were so genuinely grateful that I was there to lead them. This was their first experience. The Many directors I met were very interested in what I did in the states with such a large band program, and couldn't fathom teaching 350 kids a day. I gave every kid in the band a Homewood Patriot Rose Parade Pin from 2003 (we had a ton left over that I found in a closet) and you would have thought I gave them money, they were so excited. I also brought HMS band shirts for the band director Kim, and Matt and Stacie Gaines. Kimberly Hogstett is the band director and really done a graet job with starting the band program over here six years ago. She is from Missouri.
Matt Gaines is the Choir Director who was in Pat Morrow's Homewood Patriot Band many many years ago. He is a great choir director and is really passionate about being at this school. He brought his 11th and 12th grade chamber choir down to sing for the band, and I was speechless, especially at how good the boys were. His wife Stacia is such a true southern belle, who we couldn't have survived without. She speaks amazing chinesse for an American and is such a fun person to be around.
Driving to the concert took us about an hour by bus with the Middle School band. We were going to TEDA, not sure what that stands for except it is an area in Tianjian near the coast. It is really hard to explain how big and vast this place is. Its bigger than LA,(not Lower AL, the real one) with about 10 Million people. And they dont' live in houses, they all live in high rise apartments. I counted at least 100 buildings going up on the drive over that were still being constructed. Think driving through the biggest city close to were you live. You see the big skyscrapers in a group and then thats it. This place is just big skyscraper after another for miles and miles and miles. People everywhere. The longer I'm here the more it grows on you. TEDA seems like they came in and Built this city from scrath. The newness of the buildings and beauty was everywhere.
Anyway back to the concert. The kids did a great job. Drummers were weak but somehow, after many rewrites, they pulled it off. I took many pictures with them afterword and they really loved the experience. One of the band directors told me afterword that her students loved this honor band and she wanted me to come back in a few years when she is in charge of the ACAMIS at her school in East China. We will see. So this part of our journey is over. I can't explain how incredible this trip has been. It has exceeded my expectations by a mile. I was excited, nervous, scared when we got here on Wednesday and have just had the time of my life here and will never forget Tianjin China. Now on to Beijing for the Great Wall, Forbidden City, and SILK MARKET :).