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Talented Wakeland Elementary ensemble rises to occasion, above expectations, instructor says

Students at Frances Wakeland Elementary School of International Studies in Bradenton play the xylophone as part of the annual holiday show.
Students at Frances Wakeland Elementary School of International Studies in Bradenton play the xylophone as part of the annual holiday show. Provided photo

The annual holiday show at Frances Wakeland Elementary School of International Studies featured a bit of razzle-dazzle.

“It wasn’t your typical ‘Jingle Bells,’ performance,” a parent said. “There were lights and movement, stuff I had never seen before from fifth-graders.”

That’s because the kids are the most talented bunch in years, according to their music teacher, Ian Cicco, who says that his biggest challenge as their instructor is finding more material for them to master.

“What’s really unique is their talent and work ethic. They just soak up everything I give them,” said Cicco. “That’s a good problem to have.”

Cicco said that he’s in his sixth year of musical instruction at the school, 1812 27th St. E., Bradenton, and he’s never seen young students as dedicated as these. In fact, his students even stay focused during their once-a-week practice sessions.

“I’m very grateful to have the students that I have because I don’t think I’d be able to do this anywhere else,” said Cicco.

At the Dec. 14 holiday show, Cicco’s fifth-grade students successfully performed music at a seventh- or eighth grade-level. Jennifer Paul’s fifth-grader, Madeline, played the xylophone as part of that performance and said she was “blown away.”

“It was an incredible performance. I was blown away by the dedication (Cicco) had,” Paul said. “All of the kids were shining from the inside out.”

Paul said she’s grateful that her children have the opportunity to get on stage and become comfortable performing in front of others.

“Any chance that my kids get to be on stage in front of an audience gives them the opportunity for future success,” she said.

Cicco expects his students will perform four or five more times during the school year. Their next performances will come early next year when the fifth-grade students will open for the Choral Artists of Sarasota in February. The ensemble will also perform at the Manatee All-County Music Festival in March.

“I do my best to get them out there so people can see what they can do,” said Cicco. “They should be recognized for their talents and I want them to know they’re talented.”

Ryan Callihan: 941-745-7095, @RCCallihan

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