London was calling this weekend as teachers from the Central Bucks School District in Pennsylvania took the stage at Holicong Middle School for their 15th annual VH1 Save the Music Concert. This year’s sold out concert featured a mix of songs from artists hailing from jolly old England.
The district-wide program is the brainchild of band teacher Joel Chodoroff and choir teacher Jim Glaser, who quickly roped in assistant choir director Ian Sanchez and orchestra directors Jennifer DiVasto and Jennifer Repper to turn the idea to reality. Over the past decade and a half, the program has raised $162,656. All of the proceeds are donated to VH1’s Save the Music Foundation which builds and restores music programs in other districts across the nation.
The Central Bucks School District educators have performed more than 750 songs since the program started in 2004, with more than 300 of the district’s students involved each year.
My daughters have had the privilege of studying under these tremendously talented and generous teachers. For the past couple of years, I’ve had the privilege of shooting the performance from the pit, backstage and high above from the catwalk. You can see highlights from this year’s show below (view the full gallery here). The teachers are rock stars in every sense of the word.
Yet, there was one image I captured backstage that said more about their commitment and dedication than any perfectly pitched note in front of an auditorium of screaming fans could ever say. This is that image.
I was walking backstage during one of the songs when I saw a teacher hunched over a stack of papers. He was using his cellphone as a flashlight to see the words on the pages. I assumed he was rehearsing lyrics for his next song. I was wrong. Not only was it the opening night of the concert, but it was the end of the marking period. He was grading student essays. Backstage. Mid-set. On a weekend.
That single frame captured so much of what I’ve seen over the years of the dedication and commitment the teachers in this district give to their students. Through programs like the VH1 Save the Music Concert, they extend that dedication to students they’ve never met to ensure they have the opportunity to experience the power of music.
Sometimes the most powerful performance is the one the audience can’t see.