STONINGTON — As the sounds of “Danny Boy” wafted through the doors of Stonington Middle School and in the warm spring air, members of the school’s jazz band flocked to the rehearsal room — carrying saxophones, trumpets, trombones and flutes – and began to settle down to practice.
The young musicians, under the guidance of school music teachers Larry Shea and Rich Manning, were preparing for a milestone event to come.
Shea, who also leads the school’s jazz band, said starting Thursday the students will perform their first live concert since the pandemic took hold, and their very first concert since the college amalgamation. in 2020.
The gig will also mark their first-ever multi-generational gig, Shea added as he helped the students settle in. The youngsters will perform alongside members of a band called As Time Goes By, whose musicians are decades older than middle schoolers.
The idea for the concert, said Shea, 25, a graduate of Berklee College of Music in his freshman year teaching at college, was to “not only collaborate with other musicians in our community, but also help each other so that everyone’s music programs get back in place”. and run.”
“Especially now that in-person music events are coming back,” he added.
As Shea continued to help some students settle in, others sat tuning their instruments alongside the older, more experienced musicians who had joined the rehearsal.
At the back of the room, Colin Scherer, a 14-year-old college trumpet player, sat alongside As Time Goes By member Bob Calabro of North Stonington and smiled as Calabro cracked jokes.
“I’m seventy-four and sixteen,” Calabro joked to the delight of Scherer, who grinned even wider. “I hope he’s better than me.”
In the front row, Kairi Grant, 13, a seventh-grader who plays the baritone horn, sat next to Bill Gibbs, 74, of Mystic.
“It’s great to hear from people who have been playing for a long time,” Grant said with a smile. “I’m excited for the concert.”
“I’ve been playing for about two and a half years,” Grant added.
“And I’ve been playing on and off for about sixty years,” Gibbs said. “I love it.”
Shea, a native of Milford, Connecticut, who is engaged to fellow music teacher Kailey Jones, a native of Stonington, said he was delighted with the student’s enthusiasm and his progress.
Previously, membership in the jazz group was by audition only, Shea said, but recently he opened it up to any student interested in joining.
“I just want the kids to be excited and engaged,” he said. “It’s been really interesting…they’re doing a really good job.”
“We started off easy,” said Shea, who also teaches music lessons at United Theater-Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School, “and progressed slowly.”
“It’s very exciting,” said Manning, who also leads the college wind ensemble. “I think it’s great whenever young musicians can play alongside experienced musicians.”
Also, Manning added, it’s important for kids to see that you can continue to play an instrument throughout your life, even if you don’t choose music as a career.
“I’m thrilled,” added Karl Kehrle of Pawcatuck, a member of As Time Goes By who plays trumpet. “I think we’ll play five or six songs together.”
“We hope this event will be one of many more collaboratives,” Shea said. “We hope to do more together in the future.”
Thursday’s concert will be at 7 p.m. at the Groton Senior Center.