Weekly Practice Updates

  • Practicing is the key to your child's success in orchestra. Students should practice an average of ten minutes each day. Please read these weekly practice updates to help stay informed about what your children should be working on each week.

  • Weekly Practice Update #21

    In this week's rehearsal, we got to the end of Avengers!  It sounds really great, and more importantly, the students are loving playing it!  Can't wait for you to hear it.

     

    This week, we also started a new piece, A Vivaldi School Year.  This piece puts a new spin on the well known classical composition The Four Seasons by tracing a path through the school year - it starts with Autumn, goes through Halloween, Winter, Winter Break, Spring, Spring Break, Summer and finally Graduation!  It is a lot of fun to play and I'm looking forward to really getting into it.  Below is a video of another school orchestra performing this piece.

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • Weekly Practice Update #20

    In this week's rehearsal, we got up to about measure 24 in Avengers.  I have to say, it sounded amazing!  This piece is just so dramatic and powerful sounding and I am really impressed with how well the orchestra is playing it.  Over the next few weeks we will be finishing this piece and then starting to learn one final piece for our May 12 concert. 

      

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • Weekly Practice Update #19

    Congratulations to your children on a fantastic performance at last night's District Orchestra concert!  You should be very proud of their accomplishments!  I also hope you were inspired by watching the older students perform on such a high level.

     

    We are working hard on The Avengers Theme!  It's so great watching the students get so excited about playing this song!  We've only barely scratched the surface of playing this together as an orchestra, so I am very excited to see how it sounds at next Tuesday's rehearsal.  We will continue working on this song for a few weeks before moving on to one more new song for the school year.  

     

      

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #18

    What a great rehearsal we had at the High School on Tuesday!  The 5th Grade orchestra represented Springhurst so well and I was very proud of them.  It was so great to see my former students all big and grown up next to my current students!  It's a great reminder of how much your children will grow and develop, and also how far they can go with music when they stick to it year after year!

     

    Even with the District Orchestra concert coming up, we are looking ahead already and starting to practice The Avengers!  I can tell that your children are excited to play this, because as we were tuning up and getting ready for the rehearsal on Tuesday, many of them were playing the main rhythm of this song over and over again.  It was great to hear!

      

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

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  • Weekly Practice Update #17

    We are totally on track to play the Mozart piece at our District Orchestra rehearsal next Tuesday!  We played it all the way through at the last rehearsal and it is sounding really good.  I'm excited for your children to play this next to the older students next week.

     

    Mahler's Mysterious March is also coming along nicely, and we also reviewed Bach Country Fiddles this week - this was one of our Winter Concert pieces that we are bringing back for the District Orchestra concert.  

     

    This week many groups also started practicing a new song, the theme from The Avengers!  This will be a lot of fun to play, and also somewhat challenging with lots of new notes and some advanced rhythms.  I know that the orchestra will do great with this!  Below is a video of an orchestra playing an arrangement that I used to create my own.  Enjoy!

      

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #16

    As of this week, pretty much all students have reached the end of the Mozart!  In this week's rehearsal, we also played through the entire song!  It still needs some polishing up, but I'm glad that we've been able to get through it in advance of our first District Orchestra rehearsal on February 11.  This has been a really challenging piece to learn and your children have risen to the occasion!

     

    Mahler's Mysterious March is also sounding really great.  There are so many interesting and beautiful sounding sections in this song - I think you will really be impressed!

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #15

    The Mozart piece is coming together, and I have a good feeling that we will get to the end within the next few weeks!  The first District Orchestra rehearsal is on February 11, so by then we need to have at least gotten to the end, if not mastered the song completely!  Students should be practicing this song as much as possible!

     

    We also have begun working on Mahler's Mysterious March.  This song sounds so great already - it's one of those songs that will sort of "play itself" and sounds harder than it is...perfect for when we need to learn something quickly! 

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #14

    In this week's rehearsal, we finally got a chance to play the Mozart piece in orchestra!  It's coming along nicely, but it is proving to be quite a challenging piece in many ways.  Please encourage your children to practice this consistently leading up to the District Orchestra concert.

     

    Speaking of this concert, very soon I will be sending home information about this concert along with after school rehearsals.  Please be on the lookout for that.

     

    We also played through part of Mahler's Mysterious March, which I know will come together very quickly!  It sounds so cool!  I'm including a video of this song at the bottom of this update.  I could only find a group of professionals playing this because I think this song is very new.

     

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #13

    I was disappointed that we did not get to have a rehearsal this week, as I was very much looking forward to playing Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (I'll call this "the Mozart" from now on) since the students have been working so hard on it for several weeks now.  This will be our primary focus when we return from the holiday break.

     

    We also started a new song this week called Mahler's Mysterious March.  This will be the second song we'll perform at the District Orchestra concert, along with Bach Country Fiddles.  MMM is based on a theme from Symphony No. 1 by Gustav Mahler.  In this theme, Mahler used the well known nursery rhyme Frere Jacques and transformed it into something resembling a funeral march by putting it in a minor key.  It has a slightly creepy, mysterious vibe (hence the title), with several variations and everyone getting a chance to play the melody.  This song is (hopefully) going to be fairly easy to put together, which is great since we won't have that much time to do it!

     

    Please encourage your children to practice over the holiday break if they are able to.  It would be great to return in January and pick up right where we left off!

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #12

    What a week!  Your children did so great at Wednesday's concert, playing all three songs wonderfully!  Perhaps more importantly, they were also such good sports with Mr. Swietlicki being out and tolerating me playing piano for chorus, and missing the morning assembly because of the snow delay.  You should be very proud of them not just for their musical accomplishments but for their flexibility in the face of many changes!  

     

    Of course, this week's rehearsal was focused on practicing the three songs for our concert.  Now that the concert is over, we will switch our focus to the Mozart piece, which students have been working hard at during lessons.  I'm really looking forward to seeing how this song comes together over the next few rehearsals!  

     

    We will not play Silent Night or Saint Nick again, but we will revisit Bach Country Fiddles for the District Orchestra concert on February 27.  We will also start a new song called Mahler's Mysterious March.  Some groups started this song this week, and everyone else should get it next week.  I'll say more about this song next week, but for now I'll just say that this song is quite a bit easier than the Mozart and Bach Country Fiddles.  I expect we'll be able to learn this song in a few weeks.

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #11

    At this week's rehearsal, we played all the way through Bach Country Fiddles, and it is sounding great!  We are totally ready for our upcoming concert, as long as your children continue practicing the music over the next week.  I'm really excited!

     

    In addition to working on the songs for this concert, we've also been working hard on the Mozart piece.  We have not played it in rehearsal yet as I'm waiting until the students get a better handle on this pretty challenging music.  Most groups have reached the middle of the song, around measure 28 or in some cases a little farther.  

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #10

    At this week's rehearsal, we actually made it all the way to the end of Bach Country Fiddles!  That is quite an accomplishment, since we've only been learning this song for a relatively short time.  In addition to having some challenging sections, this song also has a special kind of repeat called "D.S. al Coda" - I'm sure your children will be happy to explain what this means!  We will continue to practice this song to get the tempo a little faster, but I'm confident that it will sound great by the time our December 11 concert rolls around!

     

    This week we also started a new song, which is one of my favorite classical pieces by Mozart, Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (A Little Night Music).  This is one of those instantly recognizable melodies, and I'd say almost without exception the students all knew it and were thrilled at the chance to play it.  We will be playing this for the District Orchestra concert, which is the concert at the high school that features all orchestra students from 4th through 12th Grades.  The grand finale of this concert features a combined orchestra of students from 5th through 12th Grades playing one piece together.  This year I will be conducting my own arrangement of this wonderful piece by Mozart.  It's certainly a step up in terms of difficulty level from other songs we've played but I know your children are up to the task!  Below is a video of this piece played by an professional orchestra.  Obviously our version will be much simpler and shorter, but it will give your children an idea of how it will sound; plus, it's just so wonderful to listen to, and fun to watch!

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #9

    At this week's rehearsal, we got through a lot of Bach Country Fiddles.  Most groups have reached the end of this song in their lessons, so I think that we be able to play the entire song within the next few rehearsals.

     

    Just a heads up for next week...we will be starting to practice a new song that we will be performing for our District Orchestra concert.  This concert will take place at the high school on February 27.  So, we have a long time before then but this song will be challenging for many students so now is the time to start practicing it.  With that in mind, students should continue to practice Bach Country Fiddles, Silent Night and Saint Nick so that we can feel confident in those three songs as we move on to practicing something new.  

     

    Also, a quick reminder that there are accompaniment tracks on the orchestra class page, including for Bach Country Fiddles, which I just posted last week.  These tracks can be super helpful for practicing along with at home, especially once students are familiar with the entire song.  We do this with the visual aid of the smartboard during lessons, but even without the visual I think it's a valuable tool to be able to hear the entire orchestra playing while practicing!

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #8

    We didn't have a rehearsal this week because there was no school on Tuesday, but we've been continuing to focus on Bach Country Fiddles.  Most groups have almost reached the end of the song, but we are still quite a ways from being able to put all the pieces together.  Once we do that, the key to making this song work will be playing it at a fast enough tempo to sound like a real fiddle song!

     

    In lessons, we have not been practicing Silent Night and Saint Nick as much just because we need to focus on Bach Country Fiddles now.  Please encourage your children to keep practicing those songs; if they can play most of it fluently then they should practice it all the way through.  If there are particular parts that need more work, they should just practice those sections.

      

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #7

    In this week's rehearsal, we started practicing Bach Country Fiddles, and it is already coming along nicely.  This song has a very challenging Violin 1 part, with all the other parts acting as accompaniments, until the violas, cellos and basses get a turn at the melody at measure 32.  There is also a new bow technique called "hooked bow," where students play two "up bows" in a row.  (Feel free to ask your child what that all means if you don't know, which I expect you probably don't!). The key right now is to practice this song slowly and gradually build up speed.

     

    Silent Night and Saint Nick are also sounding better and better each week!  Our concert is in about six weeks, so students are definitely going to have to kick the practicing into high gear in order to learn Bach Country Fiddles in time to perform it at that concert.  I know we can get there!  

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #6

    In this week's rehearsal we finally reached the end of Saint Nick!  We still have more to practice with this song but we were all happy to be able to play through to the end.  Silent Night is also coming along and we are almost near the end of this beautiful song! 

     

    We've also started practicing Bach Country Fiddles this week.  Most groups have not gotten far, so students should just be practicing the beginning of the song and go as far as they can.  Please encourage your children to watch the video in the previous update so they can get the sound of the song in their heads.

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #5

    We are almost there with both Saint Nick and Silent Night.  Most groups have gotten to the end of Silent Night, and many have done the same with Saint Nick while others are almost at the end.  I think in the next few weeks we will be able to wrap up both of these songs.

     

    We are also starting a new song, Bach Country Fiddles.  Some groups got that song this week while others will start it next week.  This song is a fun reworking of one of Bach's famous minuets, transformed into a fiddle song!  It has some challenging sections, and everyone gets a turn at playing the melody - I know the students will enjoy learning and performing this one!  I'm including a video of this song below, so please watch this with your children to get an idea of how it will sound like all put together.  This video is different from other ones I've included in these updates - it's from an orchestra teacher who used an app to create five versions of herself, each playing a different instrument's part of the song.  Very cool!

     

    Please encourage your children to practice consistently throughout each week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #4

    We are getting close to finishing both Saint Nick and Silent Night!  In this week's rehearsal we got up to m. 32 in Saint Nick and m. 28 in Silent Night, which is about half way through both songs.  The next part of Silent Night features the melody played by violas, cellos and basses, with a beautiful violin accompaniment.  Viola, cello and bass students will definitely need to spend time practicing this section, as it has some new skills such as shifting to high notes for cellos and basses, and new fingerings for viola.

     

    Please encourage your children to practice these songs consistently over the next week so that we will be able to start a new song soon, possibly even next week!  10-15 minutes a day (or more!) is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #3

    Since we didn't have a rehearsal this week, and many students didn't have lessons this will be a short update...we're still making progress on both songs, so please encourage your children to practice both Saint Nick and Silent Night so we're ready to start putting all the pieces together soon.  In a couple of weeks we'll be starting a new song that may prove slightly more challenging than either of these, so we're definitely going to try and get these under our belts as quickly as possible!s

     

    Students should be practicing consistently in order to learn the music as well as they can! 10-15 minutes a day is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #2

    It was so exciting to have the 5th Grade orchestra together for the first time this week!  As I told the students on Tuesday, I feel that the 5th Grade orchestra always consists of those students who have demonstrated a strong commitment to orchestra, and that it always sounds so good!  I know that this year will be no exception.

     

    At this week's rehearsal, we practiced Saint Nick's Canon on the Housetop until about measure 12.  That's not that far, but it's about what I expected for the first week as students are just getting used to the new music.  In lessons this week, most groups got up to about measure 34.  We also started practicing Silent Night, which mostly consisted of violas, cellos and basses playing a repetitive plucking pattern while violins played the melody.  We'll be able to go much farther next week as most groups have reached measure 25.  I'm really excited to play this song!

     

    As I wrote in last week's update, the 5th Grade concert will be here before you know it, so students should start practicing consistently in order to learn the music as well as they can! 10-15 minutes a day is best. Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure they are able to practice effectively and come to lessons and rehearsals prepared!

     

    Happy Practicing!

    Comments (-1)
  • Weekly Practice Update #1

    Welcome to this year's first Weekly Practice Update!  Reading these updates will help you stay connected and involved with your child's orchestra experience by knowing what they are learning and practicing each week.

     

    Our first song this year is called "Saint Nick's Canon on the Housetop," which is a fun mashup of three songs: Jolly Old St. Nicholas, Up on the Housetop and Pachelbel's Canon.  This is the first of two holiday songs we'll be performing at our December concert, the second of which is an arrangement I made of the beautiful holiday classic, Silent Night.  Most groups have already reached either measure 13 or 25 of Saint Nick's Canon on the Housetop (SNCOTH), while most have not really started learning Silent Night.  I've included a video here of an orchestra playing SNCOTH.  Watching this video will help your children get familiar with the song, making practicing easier and more effective!

     

    Since the 5th Grade concert is in December, we only have a few months to learn three challenging songs.  Please encourage your children to practice consistently - 10-15 minutes a day is best - so that we are able to perform this music at the absolute best of our abilities.  I have complete confidence in your children to do an amazing job, but it is going to require hard work and commitment!  Your involvement and encouragement will go a long way to making sure that happens!

     

    Happy Practicing!

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