Monday, February 15, 2016

Highlight: Orchestra

Another class that is always a hit with students is orchestra.
In fact, you might say it makes them all very Happy...

Michael McLean groovin' with the students in one of his orchestra classes

Orchestra class is a large group of mixed instruments who meets together to work on note-reading and prepare a piece or two for a final concert on the last day of class.

ISSI has orchestra classes available for students as young as 8 years old, and in books 2 and above.

Highlights of this class include getting to know students who play other instruments, learning note-reading, getting experience playing in an ensemble, and learning how to receive direction from a conductor.  Some conductors even let their students conduct and compose music!

Denise Willey works with one of our younger orchestras is 2011

One of ISSI's favorite conductors is Leo Kitajima (aka "Mr K"), who often writes music the week of institute that exactly fits the level of the students in each of his groups.  Last year during one of his class's sessions, he asked for a few volunteers to improvise a few measures of music.  He recorded the individual students as they played for their class, and then took those little nuggets of music to create an entire piece for them to perform at the end of the week!  What a magic moment for those students to perform something they had helped create!

Older students in the Advanced String Camp get the opportunity to work with the Fry Street Quartet for one hour of orchestra each day.  In this class, the Fry Street doesn't conduct: rather, they sit in the principal seats and lead the group as if it were just a giant chamber group.

Above: Gabe Bolkosky lets a student try conducting the orchestra

Another favorite conductor at ISSI is Connie Hadlock who dons a curly wig, thick black glasses, and fake teeth.  She speaks in a German accent and pulls in the funniest props and games (such as an Indian headdress and a Statue of Liberty costume) for the children to play with!  There is never a dull moment in her class; everyone should stop in and see how much fun she has with the students!

Whichever conductor a student gets the opportunity to work with, they will come away from their orchestra experience better note-readers, more sensitive ensemble players, and musicians with a better understanding of how their individual talent can contribute to a beautiful musical whole.

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