In Part I and Part II, I examined the circumstances under which the Richmond County Orchestra (RCO) was expanded with the addition of a Chamber Orchestra, comprised of the top 20 students in the program. In my own voice, I discussed how it was conceived by Trent Henderson and Philip Rhodes and how they, along with the current Symphony Orchestra Director Amy Ellington, shaped the program over the years. Now I will step aside and allow the members of the orchestra themselves to explain how being a part of it made a difference, if any, in their lives after high school. In a sort of round-table discussion (thank goodness for the internet, as these young adults and I cover at least three cities in two states), I asked them to be completely honest with me about their experiences. On a personal note, I was thrilled to hear from these former students of mine and am delighted to share their observations with you. Read the rest of this entry »

In my last post, I addressed the circumstances facing the Richmond County Orchestra (RCO) high school directors Trent Henderson and Philip Rhodes in the spring of 2003. Directing a large orchestra with a wide gap between the most accomplished musicians (who were ready to master music on GMEA* level V and beyond) and the less experienced ones (who may have been struggling to play GMEA* level IV) inspired them to try something unprecedented; they created a new orchestra on a temporary, invitation-only basis for the remaining couple of months of the school year. Eventually this group became the Richmond County High School Chamber Orchestra.

“Create a new orchestra? Is there room for that? Do we have the time to carve out of our already hectic schedules for that? What will the other faculty members think?” Read the rest of this entry »

            Imagine you are back in your high school orchestra. (Or band. Or chorus.)

I know, I know. I shouldn’t put you through that again. If you’re like me you’d rather not revisit your high school self. Just bear with me. You’re back in the orchestra and you are bored out of your mind, frustrated with the music selections, the rehearsal process, and even your fellow orchestra members.

Read the rest of this entry »

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