String orchestra is a unique form of music – at once challenging, energetic, and engaging. The act of creating sound on the instruments is almost tactile; as though the sound is being sculpted with bare hands. This aspect is so easily lost in student orchestras, where student technical and musical result can become mechanical. String orchestra needs that verve and life that gives music its communicative power.
In our orchestras at Harrisburg Academy, we seek the unity of musicians who don’t just play together, but who experience the music together.
This collective passion has helped build and develop stronger students who experience culture and our global world in different way. These are musicians who are able to value and respect the lives of others, regardless of distinctions. These are musicians who are able to communicate music to all. I am proud to know and teach these talented students.
The academic, social, and emotional growth of the students in our Middle School music program underscores these successes – and not just in orchestra. Students in band and choir have been growing and developing a passion beyond their years, and this has necessitated the need for new opportunities. There is a new generation of younger students who are looking for the experiences and approach that have helped older students grow. Because of these new needs, we are excited to be offering a new opportunity this year for 7th and 8th grade students to audition up into Upper School-level ensembles.
US ensembles focus more on the nuts and bolts of successful musicianship, and how to use those skills to create stunning performances. Whether that means improvising in an US jazz ensemble, sight-singing in US chorus, or performing the soundtrack for a short film in US orchestra, students are being given real skills and experiences that mirror the professional skills of successful musicians. We are constantly striving to develop students who understand that music is a medium for communication and art – not a consumable good that is to be used and then discarded!
For MS students, this opportunity means really owning their musical education. MS students who audition up have the chance to experience professional-level instruction at an earlier age. And MS students who choose to stay in MS ensembles have the opportunity to experience camaraderie and build skills as they learn to make music come alive. It is truly an exciting time for the MS music program, and I cannot wait to see students continue to grow and develop as they bring music to life here at Harrisburg Academy.