One of my favorite memories of the old Georgia Nelson building was sitting on the stairs near the music room and listening to the students practicing for the Thanksgiving assembly and the Christmas pageant. No alumnus/alumna during my early years at Graland could forget the lyrics of “To Grandma’s House We Go” or “We Wish You a Merry Christmas.”
Some of my fondest memories, as I have mentioned in a past posting, stem from the Christmas pageants at the school. I remain a bona fide Christmas junkie for whom Christmas music is a treat 365 days a year.
Here are Mrs. Gorham’s thoughts on the music program until 1977:
“Miss Nelson thought that no education was complete without an exposure to good music. It was important to develop high standards of musical taste, but enjoyment was equally important. To enter the school was to hear the sounds of piano and Miss Jones’s drum beat from the rhythm class, songs from the music room, the orchestra, or perhaps the sounds of a recorder group rehearsing.
“At first Miss Laird taught the music classes, and teachers from the Blanche Dingley-Mathews School gave piano lessons.Some lessons in notation and theory were given in groups, the children using silent keyboards. Music was and still is a vital part of Graland’s life. The school has always had superb music teachers
“In the early 30’s, Kay Wood put a sign on her door which said, “Come in; let’s sing!” The children did just that -- before school, at recess, anytime, as well as during her lively music classes. Dorothy Taylor brought lovely folk songs as well as classical music to her classes. Mary Elizabeth Linck drew crowds of children around her piano in the hall to sing seasonal songs: carols at Christmas, Thanksgiving hymns,-- and all year long in her music room, the classics and the songs of people from all over the world. . . Jeanne Reeve . . . brought an appreciation of Bach, Beethoven, and Brahms into the lives of the children.
“The school was filled with music: singing classroom groups, madrigal singers, recorder classes, and often an orchestra. John Riley continued to build a strong Glee Club which was an important part of the Christmas program. Graland bought an organ at John Riley’s behest which was used constantly in his classes, as well as for public functions. His annual spring musical productions, many of them Gilbert and Sullivan Operettas, were splendid affairs.
“In 1977, Graland’s fiftieth year, Sally Bartalot is continuing the tradition of excellence. Everyone looks forward to her annual music festivals with the special group singers and the songs dramatized.”