The impact of five high schools and almost 1,000 students playing music together on stage is breathtaking.
's 39th Annual Music Festival has outgrown the typical school gymnasium or theater in which it first began. This year's performance, which included , , Leigh, Branham and high schools, graduated to the San Jose State University Event Center.
"It got way too big," says Dan Naylor, Westmont High School music director. "It’s grown."
Originally, the event included only the high school bands and choirs and percussion. Now, the string orchestra and jazz ensemble have been added.
"This festival has grown in numbers but also in scope," Naylor says. "It has changed."
Naylor himself has been part of the event for 24 years.
"The first time I went, my kids were all little, sitting in the front row, feet dangling," he says. "Now, they're all grown up in college and with kids."
The purpose of bringing together all of these students from multiple schools is two-fold, he says.
The first is to give students the opportunity to perform, to meet other students and someone pursuing music in higher education.
"Meeting a college person ... can give them a taste of what music will be like when they move on," Naylor says. "There's a lot of good things it does for the kids."
Second, it gives students an opportunity to perform good music with these other kids.
"In a time when things are getting cut, it's good PR for schools and good for parents to see there’s still a music program here and keep the ball rolling," he says. "It's good for the community to see this happening—appreciate something like this while you have it."