Students, teachers reflect on winter concerts

In December, each grade level performed at their annual winter concert; there were four in two weeks. The concerts showcased all that the students had learnt while singing in choir and playing their instruments. The bands, orchestras, and choirs all performed multiple impressive pieces, which the students and teachers had been working on since September.

“I think we should strive to be ready sooner… I think we’re going to have a goal of having the groups perform for each other sooner, like two to three weeks before the concert, so that last two weeks is all about polishing it.” – Ms. Lorraine Davis, music teacher

“The concerts aren’t the only thing we do. It’s important that students leave [middle school] feeling like they are a musician: that… they can read music, that they can perform music, that they’re not afraid to go on a stage, that they enjoy music, and just that they are a musician. So that’s the goal as we… move forwards and that would be the main thing that I hope students would take away from that experience.” – Mr. Gordon Graham, music teacher

“I think we had nice concerts. A lot of hard work went into them from students and, of course, teachers as well, but I think the students brought it up really well.” – Ms. Anna Salmi, music teacher

“I think we need to work on being in sync during choir and our movements in choir.” – Ben Monforth, grade seven

“I liked the choir part. It was really fun to sing as a group.” – Annie Fisher, grade five

“I liked the whole ensemble focus… It wasn’t about the individual; it was about the ensemble.” – Connor Eaton, grade eight

“I always think…  it’s really impressive at that first concert in December – the first concert of the year – that so much can be learned and organized and putting on a concert with all of the students.” – Mr. David Papenhagen, band teacher

“[I’d] like to improve choir a bit because sometimes we were… slow to get the gist of how the songs were supposed to be and how to sing it properly.  [That] impacted our performance.”- Ben Monforth, grade seven

“I was really pleased with [the concerts]. It’s very, very exciting when you see that number of students on a stage… doing something together. I think it’s a wonderful experience with them because they can see that they belong, and all of the hard work they’re doing and all the effort they make on stage isn’t just their benefit but it’s for everyone’s benefit. I think that’s the greatest thing about the concerts.” – Mr. Gordon Graham, music teacher

“I think we could’ve improved on actually going at the same time and staying on beat.” – Joseph Burke, grade six

“Each grade went through something important, which is when their feet are held to the fire and they have to produce something, which is an incredible experience no matter what art you’re doing. Having to perform for an audience is one of the best learning experience that any of us can have… I definitely think that there was huge learning done and… that’s the most important thing.” – Ms. Lisa Ross, choral director

“I really think that the concerts are a fantastic opportunity for the students to share all their work that they’ve done over the past semester, and over the past years as well… Without the audience there, the students wouldn’t authentically be able to demonstrate their learning… I really think that it’s crucial for the student learning to do those performances, and the more the better.” – Ms. Anna Salmi, music teacher

“Being a starter instrument, I think it was really cool to experience being in a band.” – Annabel Lloyd, grade eight

“Performing is a different set of skills from playing the notes. Everyone can learn to perform… [but that’s the] piece we need to make more time for. Learning to perform is how you actually convey the expression of the music and the character… so big that the audience really gets it… You really have to make it obvious so the audience really understands it… And it’s very personal, and getting brave enough to make… the emotional part really, really big so that the audience can really tell what you’re saying musically – that actually takes a lot of daring and a lot of courage and that’s something I’d love to spend more time on.” – Ms. Lorraine Davis, music teacher

“The main thing that will be slightly easier for the second semester is that no one is new anymore… We’ve got very few leavers and very few new students coming in. So the groups there are a bit like a team that’s been playing together for a while. They know each other better and that gives us confidence for going on, so that’s the most important thing.” – Mr. Gordon Graham, music teacher

“I think the transitions could’ve been more easier and more faster because we had to just stand around for… [about] ten minutes.” – Mikaela Montanaro, grade eight

“I think that because we were just starting [our instrument], we have a lot of work to do with the instrument.” – Annie Fisher, grade five

“I think [what] we could’ve improved on was still the amount of enthusiasm we put into [the movements in choir].” – Dexter James, grade six

“My favorite part was the choir part because we sang a lot of cool music, and it really brought everyone together.” – Patrick Jordan, grade eight

“My favorite part of the concert was probably the ending bit when I got to see my parents and they congratulated me.” – Dexter James, sixth grader

“Musicians are always improving. Theoretically, we could play and sing the same music again and it could be twice as good because the skills we build would be better. We could play more in tune. We could sing more in time. We’re going to do all these things and would get better, but… we’re adding more challenging repertoire so kids are going to have a bigger challenge but, still, they’re going to improve and take a step forward.” – Mr. David Papenhagen, band teacher

“For me, it was a good first experience. It was the first time I went through the cycle of concerts… It was nice to bond with students in their first performance, and I’m looking forward to many concerts to come.” – Ms. Carolyn Stock-Chapin, band teacher

About Sonia Shuster ('21), Mackensie Kim ('21), and Liz Merryweather ('21)

Arts Editor (2016-2017)

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