I have to admit some things when I headline my column “My Favorite Time of the Year!” First of all, personally, Christmas and Easter are my favorite times of the year because of my Christian beliefs and the significance of these holidays. However, if you are talking about my favorite time of the year in my profession of presenting concerts for the public, this is it.

This Sunday at 3 p.m. in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Van Wert, I get to help present the 15th annual Van Wert County Young Artists Recital. There will be 53 student musicians from Crestview, Van Wert, and Lincolnview High Schools performing what I call “legitimate” pieces of music; that is, pieces of music written to teach proper performance technique, phrasing and interpretation. Solos and ensembles of all kinds of instruments and voice will be showcased on the recital.

Some may have forgotten or never knew that my background and training is in music education. My first career was teaching instrumental music in the public schools. I taught two years at Hicksville Exempted Village Schools and then moved back in the area when Clark Fleming hired me at Crestview Schools. I taught there for four years. That was followed by 14 years in the business field and now am in my 16th year presenting concerts with The Van Wert County Foundation.

This is all said because my first love was teaching young kids music. I get so much gratification in encouraging young people to learn about and love making music. I think there is so much that music teaches young people. Studies have shown that kids who are involved with music achieve higher test scores and achievements than those who never learn music.

You’ve probably seen some of those bumper stickers and t-shirts that have a bunch of notes on them with the saying, “If you can read this, thank a music teacher!” It’s hard for me to realize, but I’m sure that music reading is like a foreign language to many. I wish it weren’t so, because I think so many lose out of that joy of making music.

Well, the Young Artists Recital this Sunday will feature some of the most talented student musicians in our county who have learned to read music at a rather high level. They prepared solos and ensemble music for the OMEA contest held two weeks ago at St. Mary’s Memorial High School. The best of those have been recommended by their school music teachers to perform their pieces now for a public audience consisting of you- the public, fellow students from all three schools, family members, school administrators and other music teachers in Van Wert County.

I hope you are able to attend and encourage these fine young musicians. Over the past 15 years, participants have gone on to form careers in music as well as many other successful fields.

The church will open its doors to the public beginning at 2 p.m. A good time to arrive would be between 2:30 and 3 p.m. We will begin right at 3 p.m. There seems to be a little football event going on this Sunday later that evening. I think they call it the Super Bowl! But we will be done well in advance of that.

There will be a reception following the recital that all are welcome to be a part of, where you can greet the musicians and congratulate them.

So, this is why it is my favorite time of the year. It’s Young Artists Recital time and I get so encouraged knowing there are students learning the one thing I love and has inspired me throughout my lifetime- Music!

This Saturday is also a big day for younger kids as Dinosaur Zoo comes to town for two big performances at 1 and 4:30 p.m. in the Niswonger Performing Arts Center. Amazing huge dinosaur puppets will take kids on a magical journey of entertainment and education. Get tickets at the door if you haven’t already purchased yours. Your kids and grandkids will thank you!