Orchestra class begins on a high note

Program looks forward to concert, trip


Carissa Prestholdt

Freshman Meshach Mandel pulls his bow across the strings on his violin during third hour Sept. 20. Orchestra is working toward its Halloween concert Oct. 30.

Sofie Geretz

According to senior and violin player Ella Hammerstrand, she is excited for the upcoming year of orchestra, primarily the music she gets to play.

“Mr. Lee always picks really good music, so I’m excited for that. I really liked the songs (for this year),” Hammerstrand said.

Orchestra teacher Kou Lee said the students are currently preparing for their upcoming concert.

“It’s been pretty fun. (The students are) all super excited and we’re playing a lot of music. We’re getting ready for our concert Oct. 30,” Lee said. “We’re playing a lot of music from films like ‘Pirates and the Pacific.’”

According to Lee, he hopes to create a community within the class and give students the support they need.

“I focus a lot on community building (and) I use music to do that. Students develop relationships between one another. They have that social support, when they need someone they have a bigger circle of people to turn to,” Lee said. “If you look at one thing that I am doing this year (on my whiteboard) there’s (a) marked off section that says ‘message board.’ Now they get to leave messages to each other.”

Hammerstrand said although last year’s seniors made up a large part of the class, there is not a musician imbalance due to the large amount of freshmen in the class.

“We have a lot of new freshmen coming in, so that’s been good. We’ve been filling up the sections,” Hammerstrand said.

Lee said the orchestra class is looking forward to a potential trip to Wisconsin, where the students will visit colleges and participate in activities to strengthen the students’ connections and overall well-being.

“We were supposed to travel to Tennessee (but) I changed it to Wisconsin. (I want to) take them to three colleges,” Lee said. “We’re going to Wisconsin Dells and they have these sites (that provide) community focus (and) a lot of relationship building because that provides a base for students to take care of themselves. Mental health is incredibly important.”

According to Hammerstrand, the change in the location of the orchestra trip will result in an increase of students attending.

“There weren’t enough kids doing it. There were only eight kids that were going to go and so it was more expensive,” Hammerstrand said. “Now that we’re doing the one to Wisconsin, I think more people will want to go because it’ll be a shorter trip and it’s close.”

Lee said he looks forward to getting to know the students and spending time with them throughout the year.

“I have such great kids. I enjoy working with them a lot. When it’s the weekend I miss them a lot, because they’re super fun,” Lee said. “Just making music with them is one thing I’ve been really looking forward to over the year. Playing new music, going on tour with them. I’m not looking forward to students graduating.”