Middle School Music: Learning Through Performance

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SMUS has a number of amazing opportunities to rehearse and perform as a group and individually. Mrs. Smith’s annual Strings Ensemble concert is one that we are always very impressed with. The kids play relatively complex music, some for the first time in front of an audience and others who may be soloing for the first time. The energy of the performance is palpable, as is the sense of relief when it has come to a successful conclusion. Congratulations to Mrs. Smith, Ms. Fischer and Ms. Elder-Davis for a lovely afternoon of music!

Student Reflections

by Olivia, Grade 8 cellist
On the Thursday afternoon of November the 27th, students in Grade 7 and 8 had the opportunity to play their strings instruments in a concert as an orchestra. I think it was a great opportunity and I’m so glad I got to participate in it. We played a variety of music and, overall, it went smoothly.

The concert included an unexpected choice of the piece called “Moon Trance” which was unusual for the middle school orchestra. It was a thrilling piece with a strong bass and an entertaining, pop-like tune coming from the solo viola and violins. It was an exciting experience to practice and perform with some people who I’d never had the chance to play with before. I hope more opportunities like this one happen again.

by Makayla, Grade 7 violist
Last Thursday I took part in a Grade 7 and 8 strings performance. We played five different pieces, each with its own character and tempo. Some of them almost reminded me of an actual orchestra, playing all together as one, while others had a more of an abnormal feel, for example “Moon Trance” — my favourite.

“Moon Trance” was my favourite because of how the different sections of the orchestra interacted with each other. Just like the music video for the actual piece, it was a battle for control of the harmony and melody. Each part wanted its own moment in the spotlight. As I played this piece, I felt confidence and success, as if we had already completed the performance, even though we hadn’t.

Every piece was a sublime experience and I definitely had a tremendous time playing them. I would like to thank Mrs.Smith and Mrs. Fisher for all the hard work they put into our orchestra and for guiding us to success. I would also like to thank my classmates, for without them, we wouldn’t have had an orchestra. I am really looking forward to a great year of strings.

Watch Moon Trance below:

by Kevin, Grade 7 violinist and pianist
On Thursday, November 27, I had the opportunity to perform as a piano soloist and violinist in the ensemble in the Grade 7 and 8 strings concert, held in the Monkman Complex (single gym). It was well attended by students, parents and teachers. The concert consisted of five pieces by the string ensemble and four solo pieces, one by each of the two violinists and the two pianists.

I was really excited about this event because we had been practicing the string pieces together for about two months and I wanted to show the audience the best results from our practice. I performed my piano solo, Beethoven’s Sonata in E major, Op. 14, No. 1, near the end of the concert. This piece really fit into the concert because Beethoven later arranged the sonata for string quartet. I was motivated to play it because of the interplay of the melody. The movement starts off quietly and slowly grows louder, with frequent changes in dynamics. In the development part, it changes into a minor key with the left hand playing arpeggios while the right hand plays the melody in octaves. This is my favourite part because it is very touching and it melts my heart. Although there are very energetic parts in this piece, it ends very peacefully. Overall, I think this concert was very successful on everybody’s part; it was a great experience for me to contribute both as a soloist and as a member of the ensemble.

Watch the full concert video and clips of Moon Trance, Little Sok Rag and Elegant Promenade on SMUSTube.

You can also browse and download many more images from the concert at the SMUS Photo Gallery.

(photos by Darin Steinkey)

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