The third annual All Area Music Festival is all about Mom this year, with a free, eight-hour lineup showcasing music students from the Mt. Diablo Unified School District.
Presented by the Mount Diablo Music Education Foundation and the city of Concord, the event raises awareness and funds to preserve quality musical education in an era of belt-tightening and cutbacks.
Getting a Mother's Day head start on May 12, Todos Santos Plaza will be filled with the sound of trumpets, xylophones, song flutes, bells, sweet singing children of all ages and the voice of CBS 5 Eyewitness News' Ann Notarangelo.
Notarangelo has been a vibrant supporter of MEF's music programs and community events, according to the foundation's Michael McNally. She will present the winning essays written by four local schoolchildren about their moms.
"We were walking into Highlands Elementary, when a friend congratulated Emma, my daughter," Shannon Griffin says, describing how she found out about the award. "I asked her what was going on, but she wouldn't tell me a thing. Then, an hour later, Emma couldn't keep the secret any longer and she told me."
Griffin, who had yet to see the essay, says, "I can guess what she wrote about -- that I have to fill in for my husband, who travels a lot."
Instead, 11-year old Emma wrote, "My mom is the best person alive," and included thanks for homework help, lessons in independence, and laughing, even at her not-funny
Griffin credits her own mother for modeling capability while raising six children and admits that fatigue -- "because you're always giving, as a mother" -- is a constant struggle.
"But you have payday moments when it's all worth it," she's adds, "because you see your children succeed. You can't predict those moments, but you feel them when it happens."
Griffin will receive overtime pay at the celebration because her younger daughter, Charlotte, 9, also had an essay selected.
The two girls are worlds apart in the parenting techniques they require, but they pair up in essays expressing appreciation for the individual attention Griffin provides while teaching them how to care for themselves and others.
Jayme McKinnon, mother of Gabriel Navarro, 9, will reap her reward alongside Griffin.
"They announced it at school yesterday and I was actually there because I pick him up early on Wednesday!" she exclaims, sounding remarkably like a lottery winner.
Reluctant to predict what her son had written, McKinnon says he has been secretive about the contents, but she's not concerned.
"Gabriel is a sweet child, so he makes it easy to be a good mother," she says.
Her occupation as a hair stylist affords her ample opportunities to hear parenting horror stories, which leaves her feeling grateful. Mostly, interacting with clients has taught her that abundant communication with her son is the most important element in their relationship.
Perhaps the most resonant line in his essay is this one: "I like my mom for who she is."
Taylor Keys, 10, praises her mother for loving the San Francisco Giants and for being her teacher in the classroom.
"Her teacher is out on maternity leave, so I am actually her teacher. The principal made the announcement during school, so we heard it at the same time," Tessa Keys explains.
Allowing her daughter to have freedom to make mistakes and to learn the hard way is the greatest challenge Keys experiences as a mother. When listing the attributes she most admires in her daughter, she says, "her never-give-up attitude. She's not as tentative as I have been. I just love that about her."
While the all-day event is free, $5 raffle tickets will be sold. Prizes include an airplane ride over the Bay Area, a $300 Peet's Coffee basket, rental cars, and hotel stays. The MEF is hoping to raise $15,000 at the event to keep music education alive in the public schools.
Students hoping to honor their mothers next year might follow a tip and use the most frequent opening line of the 2012 award-winning essays, which all began, "My mom is the best mom in ... ."
WHAT: All Area Music Festival celebrating mothers, sponsored by the Mount Diablo Music Education Foundation and city of Concord, with vendor booths, and Peet's serving free coffee from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
WHEN: 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday, May 12; at 1 p.m. Ann Notarangelo of CBS 5 Eyewitness News presents three best essays from children about their moms
WHERE: Todos Santos Plaza, Willow Pass Road at Grant Street, downtown Concord
COST: Free admission; $5 raffle tickets
11 a.m. -- Northgate High Wind Ensemble
11:40 a.m. -- El Monte Elementary xylophones
12:20 p.m. -- Westwood Elementary after-school band
1:30 p.m. -- Concord High Stage Band, Concord High Jazz Ensemble
3 p.m. -- Foothill Middle School Jazz Combo
3:40 p.m. -- TBA
4:20 p.m. -- El Monte Elementary Glee Club
5 p.m. -- Song flutes ensemble comprised of students from 14 elementary schools
5:40 p.m. -- Strandwood Elementary Bell Choir
6 p.m. -- Sequoia Middle School String Ensemble