Spring concerts challenge, inspire students

Elizabeth Middle puts on three nights of music

Posted 3/8/15

Music filled the auditorium for three consecutive nights when the Elizabeth Middle School Music Department presented its spring concerts.

The three nights of music began March 3 with the Spring Orchestra Concert under the direction of music …

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Spring concerts challenge, inspire students

Elizabeth Middle puts on three nights of music

Posted

Music filled the auditorium for three consecutive nights when the Elizabeth Middle School Music Department presented its spring concerts.

The three nights of music began March 3 with the Spring Orchestra Concert under the direction of music teacher Melanie Kaumeyer, which was followed by the Spring Band Concert on March 4, and ended with a Spring Choir Concert on March 5.

Kaumeyer, who has been the orchestra and choir teacher at Elizabeth Middle for nine years, considers several factors ahead of selecting compositions for her middle-schoolers, who have skills ranging from beginner to advanced.

“I try to choose music that is more challenging as they get into the more advanced groups, and they have been playing for longer. Our Eighth Grade Ensemble for the most part chooses their own music,” said Kaumeyer

“I try to pick several that I think they (the advanced group) might be interested in and allow them to make the choices for what they would like to play,” she said. “The last two pieces they played for the advanced orchestra, half of the orchestra wanted to play `Festive Intrada' and half wanted to play `La Confession,' so we compromised by choosing both.”

The middle school and high school orchestras closed out the evening in a combined performance of “Storm the Gates.”

“We get a chance to combine with the high school, so the kids get to see what it's like to work with the director up there and what kind of music they would be performing if they continue on here in the Elizabeth school system,” Kaumeyer said.

The following night band teacher Julia Emmons and her Cardinal Players presented “High School Musical Jr.,” a middle school band concert including performances of classic pieces including “Mars from The Planets” and an Irish Celtic selection.

“I try to pick some classic pieces such as `Mars' to introduce them to the wind-band literature that is know from middle school, high school, and college,” Emmons said. “I found a version that is appropriate for middle school band.”

The band closed its performance with a fast-paced James-Bond/Mission-Impossible styled tune, “Spy Chase.”

“Spy Chase challenges them rhythmically, but it's also fun. It has a cool sound to they'll enjoy working and playing that,” Emmons said.

On March 5, Kaumeyer returned to conduct her nearly 80 choir members for their Spring Choir Concert. Kaumeyer selected a variety of music, multicultural, upbeat, and at least one slower piece that “forces them to stretch.”

“Maybe it isn't their favorite, but a lot of the kids discover that those slower pieces are a favorite even though they didn't like them in the beginning,” she said.

Additionally, the songs chosen by Kaumeyer for the choir performance included selections that went beyond the music, incorporating topics that her students are learning in their social studies classes. Kaumeyer also passes some of this information on to the audience during a song's introduction.

“For example one of the sixth-grade pieces they are performing tonight is called the Erie Canal. It's a folk song based on the canal systems in the upper East Coast that no longer exist,” Kaumeyer said before the concert. “We get to talk about what canals are like, and in the song it talks about the lock coming up, so we talk about what kind of lock it is. It's not lock and key it's a canal lock.”

Kaumeyer estimates that about 80 percent of her nearly 150 students will continue either playing or singing in high school.

“If you play appropriate music and make teaching music fun and enjoyable they are more likely to continue into their later years.” Emmons said.

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