Joaquina Johnson imparts 'contagious passion'
After abandoning the flute and giving up hope of mastering the bassoon, I found my niche playing the crash cymbals in my high school band. My band teacher said I was the best crash cymbal player she'd ever had. Unfortunately, I have not been able to transfer those skills to anything resembling real life.
I always thought I would love to play the violin, but I have realized through the years that I want to be proficient without putting in the required work to get there. My fallback position for years was that I'd just keep having children until I had one who wanted to study the violin, but I think I've lost the resolve to stick with that one, too. I have a houseful of pianists, so I can't complain.
Given my utter lack of musical ability, it seems unlikely that I ever met Joaquina Johnson. Fortunately, I was blessed with a daughter who loves to sing. Many years ago, a friend recommended the youth chorus, which Joaquina directed at that time. My daughter went on to sing with the Bel Canto Choir and, briefly, with the Yuba-Sutter Master Chorale as well.
When I first met Joaquina, I didn't realize right away that I'd been introduced to greatness. My admiration grew as I watched her mold young singers into fine performers. She has touched so many lives through the years with her dedication to music and the arts.
Local singer and songwriter Wendolyn Rose Garbarino has been singing under Joaquina's direction since age 12. Wendy describes Joaquina as "contagiously passionate" about music. From my experience as an outsider looking in, that passion inspires her students to find the necessary discipline to excel.
My children and I got a real treat this week when we attended a rehearsal for an upcoming concert, "With Full Voice," performed by the Master Chorale and the Veridian Symphony Orchestra. It has been a while since we've gone to a concert, but with Brian performing this year, we couldn't miss out on this opportunity.
I opted to bring the kids to a practice session rather than the concert because my youngest daughter has yet to become civilized at such events. At rehearsal, Sicily alternately danced, climbed on me, drew pictures and twice dropped the Presbyterian hymnal on the floor.
The kids enjoyed waving at Brian for a while. They also had a great time watching the fine dancing by several performers from Jacque's Dance Expressions, who will also perform during the concert. The fun really started when the orchestra showed up. Seeing and hearing the different instruments caught my girls' attention and imaginations. I pointed out the bassoon and told them how I'd given up on it in high school. I didn't notice anyone playing the crash cymbals.
Once the orchestra set up, practice resumed. "Spit out those consonants!" Joaquina exhorted her singers, and I had visions of consonants spewing forth and floating out over the audience.
The Master Chorale will perform two concerts this weekend: at 7 p.m. Saturday and again at 3 p.m. Sunday, both at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Yuba City. Tickets are available for purchase at the Yuba-Sutter Regional Arts Council or at the door. Take your kids. It will make them smarter, I'm sure of it.
The music is exquisite, even with the blatant omission of a part for the crash cymbals. A small oversight, I'm sure. Joaquina probably didn't know how proficient I used to be, or I'm sure she would have written in a part for me.
Oh, well, there's always next year.
Rose Godfrey is a speech pathologist and homeschooling mom in Meridian. Her homeschool blog can be found on the Appeal-Democrat website at appealdemocrat.com.