How to Preserve Music at South

By: Sophie Pierce

South Eugene has very excellent choir, band and orchestra programs, but there seems to be a sharp divide between band, orchestra, and choir kids about their enthusiasm toward the programs.

Ask any choir kids how they feel about the class and nine times out of ten they will praise the curriculum and the programs that go into it. Ask a orchestra kid how they feel and nine times out of ten you are going to hear some grumbling about the repertoire and the early hours.

What is the divide? What is the difference between the choir and orchestra?

One of the most important things that keep students interested in music is to keep the repertoire relevant, fresh, and challenging enough for all skill levels. If the reporter becomes repetitive or too easy for higher level participants, the general moral of the class will go down.

Many of the musicians that come to South are talented and need a different level of pieces that fit their skill level. Instead of having the basic full string orchestra, it would be beneficial to have section groups or smaller quartets that can break off to take on more advanced repertoire in order to keep the mornings interesting for the students that need it and allow the conductor to spend more time with the students who need extra attention.

As a former orchestra kid, I can speak for all when I say that seven in the morning is a terrible time to sight read four pages of music and be expected to sound decent; however, the major problem that comes along with the early hours is that if orchestra or band or choir gets moved into the normal class schedule more kids would drop in favor of their core classes, so all music classes remin a 0 or double 0 period.

Admittedly 90% of the students in school orchestra or band are there for Youth Symphony requirements or to look good for a college; however, if the mentality could change then the overall enthusiasm towards the program could change, but a surefire way to ensure the preservation of music at South comes down to individual conductors.

You could compare a good conductor to a good cult leader. The more charismatic they are the less their followers will challenge them. A good conductor establishes an encouraging and positive relationship with their musicians to keep up an enthusiastic repore, which may be missing from some South music programs. Clear expectations are key to a cohesive group of musicians that respect and enjoy showing up to rehearsal. To keep kids engaged and thoroughly interested in music a reliable, caring conductor is the number one way to guarantee that. This goes for band, orchestra or choir.

There is no denying that art and music are extremely important classes that should not be cut from the curriculum, so in order to keep up the numbers of participants it is pertinent that students find these classes interesting, encouraging, and offering the correct level of challenge.

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