Huge Increase of Students in Music Program

This year, there has been a huge increase of students that have joined the Orcas Island high school music program. The majority of the freshman class is involved in either band or strings, creating a drastic change in numbers compared to past years. Pamela Wright, the strings director in the school district, commented that the “amazing growth” of the music program was something that she is really looking forward to in the coming year.

Sampling of students in orchestra, from left to right: Anthony Kaskurs, Emily Toombs, Olivia Brunner-Gaydos / Photo credit: Paris Wilson

Sampling of students in orchestra, from left to right: Anthony Kaskurs, Emily Toombs, Olivia Brunner-Gaydos / Photo credit: Paris Wilson

The strings program has doubled in size since last year, from 10 students to 20. Due to the expansion, Mrs Wright hypothesizes that the dynamics of the group will change. “With a larger group comes the need for a conductor,” says Mrs. Wright, “rather than a smaller group that can play in more of a chamber music style with no conductor. Keeping them together and on track will be a bigger challenge this year. Totally possible though!” When asked how the upperclassmen should adapt to the change in number, Mrs. Wright responded, “Be supportive to your new members. When you graduate this year, or next, these younger students need to possess the confidence that you have and they need to know how to support their younger members when they are upperclassmen. Be a positive example of what that looks like.”

There has also been an increase in the number of students in High School Band, according to Darren Dix, band director of the Orcas Island school district. He was also astounded by the big increase in students in high school band this year, from 9 band members to 20. “We have a much larger group,” commented Mr. Dix, “and the playing levels are higher, so I think that we will be able to play more difficult and complex music with the added students.”

The student opinions of the music program are just as important as the teachers’. When asked why he played music, senior Michael Harlow said, “I play music because it brings me joy and it’s a way to connect with everybody because it’s a universal language.” Upon being asked how she felt about the large number of students in high school strings, Junior Emily Toombs said, “I like the small numbers that we’ve had in the past, but the fact that it’s growing means it will be here when I graduate, which means a lot to me.” After being asked about how she felt being a freshman in high school strings, Amelia Kau responded “It’s harder than middle school strings, [but I still like it].”

Being in the high school music program takes a lot of commitment. Students need to devote to waking up early, and are expected to be in their seats ready to play no later than 7:30. Practicing, concert performance, and competing with other schools in regional contests demands much of the students’ time. Because of this dedication that everyone must show, the music program is better than ever.