Thursday, July 11, 2013
By Shandra Hill Smith
For the first time in more than a decade, Atlanta Falcon Justin Blalock picked up his tuba and played. This time, Blalock performed alongside Atlanta Symphony Orchestra members and student musicians during the 2013 Side-by-Side Concert at the Woodruff Arts Center. The starting left guard (#63) for the Atlanta Falcons joined student musicians from metro Atlanta, including members of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra (ASYO) and Talent Development Program. Staff Conductor Jere Flint led the musicians.
An advocate for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and its music education efforts, in 2012, Blalock served as guest conductor during the annual concert. He is a spokesperson for ASO’s “When I Play Music” campaign for music education (www.aso.org/blalock).
As a child in Plano, Texas, Blalock — who also plays drums and guitar — was in band from sixth grade to his junior year in high school. He says he had some concern about playing with ASO since he’d spent some time away from his tuba and he was surprised — following some rehearsal time — “how quickly it came back.” He joined the group to perform “Superman March” from the classic movie “Superman.”
For him, music, like football, offers qualities such as teamwork, discipline, dedication and a sense of accomplishment.
“All the things I felt that I gained at these kids’ ages. I want them to have the chance to experience those things as well,” said Blalock. “I think all the benefits it brings are really too important to look past. I know with schools, programs are being cut left and right. Some things are being lost in the shuffle so to speak. I just want them to experience all those things that I got a chance to have as a youth.”
ASYO consists of students ages 13 to 18 from across the Southeast. The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, in its 68th season, is one of the nation’s leading orchestras.