Fostering a love of music

Newly established Junior Orchestra adds to Family Festival musical program.


Mizuki (11)

In two short years, the Junior Orchestra has grown from nine members to 25 featuring 21 violins, one cello, and one flute. Led by Mr. Nicholson, the Junior Orchestra unites young Sacred Heart instrumentalists and allows them to further explore their passion for music. While the thought of joining an ensemble may be rather daunting, Mr. Nicholson says, “Many of these students have never had the experience of playing in an ensemble, and they usually find it a very rewarding and fun experience. The Junior Orchestra is very much a training group, and there is no attempt made to limit or control the instrumentation, nor is there ever any kind of audition. Our concerts are more like open rehearsals, and I try to feature each instrumental group in some way.”

The upsides of playing an instrument in a group are multifold. Firstly and most evidently, students in the Junior Orchestra get the opportunity to delve further into the world of music with their schoolmates by their side. This means that the girls have a comfortable environment in which they can both improve their own technique and learn to blend and balance with each other. Since there is a great diversity in terms of each student’s playing ability, Mr. Nicholson makes an effort to select pieces that are based on folk songs or other known material. This way, the girls are better motivated as they are already familiar with the pieces. The group also plays many unison songs of varying difficulty. The students play as many of these pieces as they can, but are also given the freedom to not play if the pieces become too challenging.

Another benefit to joining the Junior Orchestra is that it serves as a sneak-peek of what the middle and high school orchestra is like. This gives students a chance to actively decide whether they would like to take the next step in their orchestral pursuits.

When asked what he hopes students get out of their time in the Junior Orchestra, Mr. Nicholson said, “I want them to come away with a greater love of music than they did before they joined the group, and I want them to develop an understanding of what it means to be a part of an ensemble; a respect for the success of the group, rather than a celebration of individual ability – the individual technique is developed during the private lesson, whereas the ensemble experience attempts to be more than the sum of its parts.”

While the Junior Orchestra usually plays at the Junior School Christmas Program, Family Festival, and occasionally at Junior School morning assemblies, the group is hoping to have a special end-of-year performance in Miyashiro Hall, part of Sacred Heart University’s campus.

The Junior Orchestra put on a fabulous show at Family Festival.
The Junior Orchestra put on a fabulous show at Family Festival.