USAF Rockies Clarinet Quartet 003Mesa Elementary in Shiprock received a visit from the United States Air Force Academy “Rockies Clarinet Quartet” on Tuesday. The school was treated to an eclectic mix of traditional clarinet quartet literature, exciting new work and arrangements originating from folk and popular styles.
The highlight of the show was the story of the Three Billy Goats Gruff.  The quartet not only told the story but did so while playing musical backgrounds, acting as the different characters and engaging the students in the audience.
“The Three Billy Goats Gruff story was really a highlight of the show,” said Mesa Elementary Music Teacher Ralph Jalbuena. “It was purposeful and interactive. It allowed the students to practice learning, it showed the students’ ability to respond and tested their comprehension. It did all of this in a fun way centered around music.”
The show was made possible after Jalbuena, who is in his third year of teaching music in Central Consolidated School District, made a formal request for the visit, after gaining the approval from Principal Dr. Louisa Lopez-Martinez.
The visit also served other purposes including a pre-Veteran’s Day celebration and a glimpse into future careers for the young audience.
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“The New Mexico state standard for music includes celebrating customs and American traditions through music,” Jalbuena said. “It was wonderful for both students as well as teachers and staff to experience a one-of-a-kind performance. The students were definitely engaged and amazed by the fact that music is also a vital part of military customs. I observed that a lot of the students were encouraged by the music. There were lots of students who talked about joining the band in the middle school and high school and some were just completely in awe that aside from serving and defending our country, our guests had also pursued something they have always loved to do.”
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Mesa Elementary plans to host a Veteran’s Day on November 8 celebration complete with a visit from the Shiprock High School JROTC program. Jalbuena hoped that the quartet concert would kick start appreciation for the military in the community.
“We do a lot of great things here at Mesa, this was one of them. Hopefully, the community can see all the things we do for our students and appreciate it,” Jalbuena said.