District 833 students to perform with East Metro Symphony OrchestraIn 2006, District 833 pulled some strings and was able to get orchestra in the schools for 250 fourth and fifth grade students.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
In 2006, District 833 pulled some strings and was able to get orchestra in the schools for 250 fourth and fifth grade students. Four years later the program has grown to 750 students for fourth through eighth grade students.
Next fall, for the first time ever, District 833 high schools will have orchestra.
“It’s going to be very exciting that this small group of students who originally started in this program will enter the high school for the first time next year,” said Nancy Wiessner, the District 833 fine arts coordinator.
The community will come together to celebrate the orchestra program Sunday, Feb. 28 on the Loft Stage at East Ridge High School when orchestra students from all four middle schools perform on stage with the East Metro Symphony Orchestra for the “Side-By-Side Performance.”
“I don’t think anything has been done like this before where you have a community group sitting right next to young students — it’s almost like a mentoring situation,” Wiessner said. “Hopefully it gives those middle school students an idea of what it could someday be like for them.”
Growing the program
Wiessner said the birth of the orchestra program, and the success of the program, was thanks in large part to the parents’ support of bringing it into the schools because they saw the benefits of it.
“The orchestra really expands the opportunity for students to be in music,” she said. “Parents also recognize that playing an orchestra instrument really does test the mind.”
Wiessner said some of the benefits of learning how to play an orchestra instrument, or any instrument for that matter, is that it challenges the students to think in very intricate ways — it teaches the students self-discipline, note reading, decoding, articulation, processing and interpretation.
“Playing a musical instrument really enhances the brain power of that student — it gets them digging deep,” she said.
The district decided to introduce the orchestra program in phases by adding it to one grade at a time because it will give students time to learn the basics, before getting too complicated.
“Once they have the basic notes, they will move so much faster and start getting into that musicality,” Wiessner said.
Currently, the district has five orchestra teachers who travel between all of the schools.
Wiessner said the thing that has drawn students to orchestra is that they get to be a part of a group, but at the same time their role in the group is very important.
“You are part of something bigger than yourself, but your are an important part,” she said.
For more on this story see the Wednesday, Feb. 10 print edition of the Woodbury Bulletin
WHAT:“Side-By-Side” orchestra performance of District 833 middle school accompanied by the East Metro Symphony Orchestra
WHEN:3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28
WHERE:Loft Stage at East Ridge High School
WHY:833 middle school orchestras will celebrate their growth
NOTE: The performance is free. For more information about the District 833 orchestra program visit www.sowashco.k12.mn.us/orchestra