I’m guessing that everyone who attended the Westside Band Festival last Wednesday night left the Petaluma High School gym in a better mood than when they arrived.

How can you not have your spirits lifted after listening to 50 or so Petaluma Junior High school band students enthusiastically play “Louie, Louie” while the parents in the audience tapped their toes and clapped in time with the music?

That was just one of the party songs played at the concert that brings together all the bands from all the west side elementary schools, Petaluma Junior High and Petaluma High School. I still have the mile-a-minute rendition of “Funky Town” that the PHS marching band played stuck in my head. But I’m not complaining.

Attending the Westside Band Festival makes me think that I would rather sit on butt-numbing bleachers in a high school gym and listen to pre-teen music students play “Don’t Stop Believin’” than attend a performance of professional musicians in comfy seats at Davies Symphony Hall. This is so much more energizing.

I love hearing the progression of the kids’ skills from the various elementary school bands playing simple tunes such as “London Bridge” to the junior high students – who thanks to Mr. Bailey’s training and discipline – really look like musicians, to Mr. Eveland’s high school students who are well-rehearsed, sound great and enjoy the opportunity to show off a bit in front of the younger kids.

As we were waiting for the program to start, I started thinking how fortunate it was that there was an after-school music program at Cinnabar Elementary the year that Jennifer was in sixth grade. Otherwise, she never would have started playing clarinet. You see, our house has plenty of art supplies but musical instruments are in pretty short supply. And since I never played an instrument – yes, I played the accordion briefly as a child but that’s not a musical instrument, it’s a piece of furniture – encouraging our children to take music lessons wasn’t on my list of enrichment activities.

So I really appreciate the schools that give students the opportunity to learn to play an instrument because I know how much it has enhanced Jennifer’s life and school experience.

After enjoying the performance so much, the least I can do is relay the announcement that Mr. Eveland made about the Petaluma Music Festival happening on August 6 at the Sonoma-Marin Fairgrounds. All proceeds go to fund music programs in Petaluma schools. Visit www.petalumamusicfestival.org for more info.