Magical Wand Kelly Detwiler conducts the string ensemble and helps them fix any mistakes that may happen. Detwiler used a baton to help keep count with the students. (Myah Lear)
Magical Wand Kelly Detwiler conducts the string ensemble and helps them fix any mistakes that may happen. Detwiler used a baton to help keep count with the students.

Myah Lear

Chorus, orchestra prepare for holiday concert

December 6, 2022

The music department is preparing for a concert on Friday, Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. in the auditorium.

The different groups to perform at the concert will include: chorus, symphonic orchestra, string ensemble and vocal ensemble. Orchestra director Kelly Detwiler will conduct the orchestra and string ensemble, and choral director Kelly Sipes will conduct the concert chorus and vocal ensemble.

“It’s a great tradition in the community,” orchestra director Kelly Detwiler said. “A lot of community members, even if they don’t have children in the program, come and enjoy the holiday music. I think it’s a good feeling to bring into the holiday, and music is such a special part of that. I think we’ve always kept up the tradition of holiday music rather than winter music because of that, and we just enjoy showing off our kids.”

The orchestra classes started preparing for the concert at the beginning of October. The students have been getting new pieces of music to learn since then.

“I’m always excited about this one [concert],” Detwiler said. “This is my favorite concert of the whole year just because it’s great music, and everyone knows all the pieces. It’s not heavy classical music, like we sometimes do, and it’s just a great feeling. I love being with the choir as well and sharing the concert with them.”

During class, Detwiler works with the different instrumental groups to fix any mistakes that may be occurring. The orchestra combines with wind instruments on Tuesdays and Thursdays to practice music together.

“She really is a big help because she’s our teacher, and when it comes to helping us, she really wants the best for us, and that’s awesome, amazing and wonderful,” sophomore Alyssa Stetser said.

For practicing and preparing at home, students will either use an instrument they already have or bring the one they have at school home.

“I do practice at home,” Stetser said. “When I practice, I lock myself in my room because my cats will come in, and they like to bother me, but after I do that, I listen to the recordings and try my best to play along with them.”

On the day of the concert, students get a bit of time to prepare by doing some last minute practicing and tuning their instruments. Some students also take photos with one other to make sure they remember the moment in the future.

“Concerts are a lot of fun because you get to roam around a little bit and take pictures, feel excited for yourself and get all hyped up,” Stetser said. “Because I get nervous right before we go on stage, I tend to just take some deep breaths and remember that family is out there, and they will be proud no matter what.”

Playing your heart out Senior Abigail Scheinberg, Sophomore Andrea Slusser and Gwyneth Fox play the song “We Three Kings of Oriental.” The three students playing are part of the string ensemble. (Myah Lear)

The chorus prepares by sight reading music, working on reading skills, knowing how to read music, to harmonies and rhythms and working on things like diction and breath support. Before Thanksgiving break, students were required to go off book, meaning they couldn’t look at the music anymore and had to memorize everything.

“I’m excited,” Sipes said. ”I enjoy performing as much, or more than the students do, and they have worked really hard, and I’m really proud of them. I’m always excited to put that out there for everyone else to see.”

Chorus students have a Google Classroom where they have access to tracks to rehearse at home.

“If I’m really stuck on a certain part, I’ll go home and drill it, but usually she’s a really good teacher, so we usually get things down in class, and I don’t have to,” senior Alayna Huss said. “When it comes to solos, I usually practice my verse at home. During class, we will sing through it, and then I’ll just practice it there. It’s kind of the same as the rest of the song for me.”

Though the concert is in December and the preparation for students starts in October, the preparation for teachers starts in May.

“In the summer, I explore potential pieces of music for our repertoire for the following [school] year,” Sipes said. “To back up even further, in May, I have students also give some input as far as what songs they may be interested in. That helps kind of guide what I look for. I want something that’s going to be appealing to them; something that I feel that they can learn from and will also be entertaining to the audience.”

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