Student Leaders Reflect on the Fall Orchestra Concert

As students awaited their turn to perform at the Fall Orchestra Concert in October, they became nervous. Their practice sessions were now being put to the test. To give an extra boost of confidence, Mr. Hansen had required his musicians to practice the songs over and over for the full class period every day for several weeks.

“Since this was the first concert of the year for Intermediate Orchestra, a fair amount of rehearsal time was spent reviewing the fundamentals, whereas in the Advanced Orchestra, we hit the ground running and worked on All-Region scales and tunes to get us in the rehearsal mind set,” Mr. Hansen said. “Once we began on the concert music, I identified the problem areas that the students were struggling in, and we focused in on those sections. The Intermediate students learned one of their pieces rather quickly, and we began to work on some advanced bow techniques. The Advanced students learned their music so quickly that I had to add two pieces to the concert for them: ‘The National Anthem’ (which they were required to perform from memory) and a piece called ‘Toccatina.’”

Advanced Orchestra_"Toccatina" from Melissa Mullin on Vimeo.

The leaders of Intermediate and Advanced Orchestras had even more pressure on their shoulders than the rest.

“I played through the pieces slowly and tried to perfect the small things,” Amber Keomany, Advanced Orchestra’s principal 2nd violin chamber, said.

They each had their own methods for preparing.

“I practiced almost every day so I could be ready for the concert,” Joshua Sayombath, Intermediate Orchestra’s principal viola, said.

Mr. Hansen’s efforts to guide his students were well appreciated.

“Mr. Hansen is the kind of leader who expects the best from you every day, and he’s always pushing us so we can be the best musicians we can,” Joshua said.

The leaders liked Mr. Hansen’s direct approach.

“He’s almost like a coach,” Amber said. “He told us straight up what we needed to fix and what we need to do to be better. He pushes us to the limit but that only improves us as his students.”

At the concert, the Intermediate and Advanced Orchestras performed songs ranging from “Tales of the Kojki” to “Fantasy on a Folk Song.” Because the 8th grade Language Arts classes had just read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart,” Mr. Hansen also used that piece in the concert.

Advanced Orchestra_Tales of the Kojiki from Melissa Mullin on Vimeo.

Intermediate Orchestra_"Fantasy on a Japanese Folk Song" from Melissa Mullin on Vimeo.

Chamber Orchestra_"Tell-Tale Heart" from Melissa Mullin on Vimeo.

“I loved the ‘Variations on a Well-Known Sea Chantey’ because each variation was different and it is just a well-written song,” Amber Keomany, 9th, said.

The concert proved to be a memorable event.

“I liked it when the advanced group performed because they played the longer songs,” Joshua said.

Family members, fellow students, and teachers filled the stands in the gym.

“I liked being able to see some of my teachers in the audience,” Amber said. “They’re used to seeing me in the classroom, and it would’ve been new for them to see me with the orchestra.”

Mr. Hansen had several reasons to be pleased.

“I’ve heard high school orchestras that didn’t have as much bow control as our Intermediate students displayed,” Mr. Hansen said. “Also, our Advanced Orchestra learned the ‘Toccatina,’ which is a moderately-challenging piece, inside of two weeks. In general, the students’ dedication to their art makes me very proud.”