High School Arts Leaders-in-Training
Over the months of October and November, a five-member high school chamber group from From The Top’s Center for the Development of Arts Leaders (CDAL) worked with seven members of the Dudamel Orchestra as the first part of their yearlong intensive arts leadership project. On Thursday, November 15th, the seven 5th and 6th graders performed as a Chamber Group for their friends and family for the first time. The two chamber groups rehearsed side by side and performed Hornpipe by Handel, Suite in F Major, for the rest of the Dudamel Orchestra. Watch the performance on YouTube!
Before the performance, the five Arts Leaders introduced the students and the project, noting how impressed they were with the musicality and dedication of “their” students. After the seven members of the Chamber Group played, they took questions along with the Arts Leaders about the process and what they learned. They described what it was like to be part of a musical group with no leader; they each had to take responsibility for not only their own part, but also the coordination of the piece as a whole. They had to look at one another and had to note when one instrument or another was setting the tempo. They also had to discuss and agree on the dynamics throughout the piece. Sometimes they had different ideas and, according to Jose Fuentes (violin), had to experiment and listen to one another until they could agree.
The weekly rehearsals leading up to this performance were a rich learning experience for all involved. Juree Kim, a junior from the Walnut Hill School, said she loved watching the process, “to see them getting better every single week”. These high schoolers learned to watch their students carefully for understanding and all five noted how enthusiastically the young musicians responded when they put the piece together for the first time. Chris Rogers-Beadle, a sophomore at Hingham High School, noted that our students “had great ideas and were very musical”. They were more advanced than the Arts Leaders were expecting which made teaching both a challenge and a joy.
The first Chamber Group featured Stella Dzialas and Maya James on flute, Jose Fuentes on violin, Kelly Exilus on viola, Trayvon Ricks on bass and Nora Feeney and Niya Maniez on cello. The Arts Leaders will be back in January to lead another group of Conservatory Lab chamber musicians. Linda Gerstle, the Director of Education and Community Partnerships at From The Top said, “This has been ideal. The Arts Leaders are learning and the Conservatory Lab students are learning and that makes the partnership sing!”