MAKING MUSIC WITH OUR COMMUNITY

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On Saturday, February 9, SONG singers and string players participated in a family concert, “Let’s Move, Let’s Dance”, presented by the Northumberland Orchestra and Choir. For some students, it was their first experience listening to a full, live orchestra. Several of our string volunteers – past and present – play in the NOC, as does our Director of Strings, Deborah Henderson, so it was an opportunity for our string students to see their adult mentors in the midst of their music-making community.

The orchestra performed some lively pieces and one of our string students, Emma, was one of 4 children chosen to have a go at conducting the orchestra for Schubert’s “Marche Militaire #2”.

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Then it was time for SONG to watch the conductor! Our singers and strings performed Mother Goose Meets Mozart along with players from the NOC, and the strings played a dance tune called “Knockin Calypso”. It was a really exciting experience for our string players of all levels to sit IN the sections of the orchestra, near some really fine players (and some very big instruments!), and to be part of the music making from the other side of the podium. Judging by the feedback after the show, the orchestra members had a pretty good time sharing the stage with our students!

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At the end of February, SONG’s string students had a second opportunity to participate in an orchestral concert – this time it was the La Jeunesse Youth Orchestra’s “In the Spotlight” program. They performed as part of a larger group of up-and-coming young string students (mostly violinists) whose participation serves as a reminder to the audience that it takes many years for string players to develop the skills required to be able to play in an orchestra. It was wonderful for SONG to be able to add two cellos and a viola to provide additional harmony parts to Twinkle and Go Tell Aunt Rhody.

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It was also a privilege to have front row seats to be able to watch the soloists from LJYO, as well as all of the “activity” in the orchestra – especially the percussion section. Our students were surprised to see their string instructor, Dave Shewchuk, a former concertmaster of LJYO, make himself at home in the first violin section of the orchestra and read all the difficult music they played. (yes, he really is that good!). As with the NOC, it put their teacher in a broader community context, as a leader and a mentor of other young string players.

Our preparation for both of these concerts was severely hindered by cancellations of classes due to weather. Nevertheless, our students managed to rise to the occasions and put their “performance hats” on, staying focused during the rehearsal time, and moving on and off stage with relative ease during the performances. Our more experienced students clearly demonstrated that they knew what to do and how to “be” in an orchestra and at a concert. The long term benefits of students’ involvement in SONG become self-evident to parents, teachers and community members when SONG students step into the larger local music community.

Deborah Henderson,
Director of Strings