Orchestra strengthens community

Students bond over music


Charlotte Cox

Orchestra teacher Kou Lee tunes instrument for orchestra students. Orchestra is a string instrument elective at Park.

Ivan Zank and Jesse Belen

Before COVID-19, the orchestra would have an annual performance sometime during the winter season. Kou Lee, the orchestra teacher, said he has high hopes to bring back the performance. 

“I’m planning a community performance at Beth El Synagogue as well as at Methodist hospital,” Lee said. “Before COVID-19, that was something we used to do annually. There is an Asian mall opening up in Eden Prairie and hopefully we can go there and they can check out South Asian stores a bit and get some food.”

Sophomore Clara Hammer said she thinks the school should put more work into actively supporting the music program.

“There’s a lack of funding for instruments and materials like repairs, sheet music and strings,” Hammer said. “We need to fundraise more, but they could also support the music program more.” 

Lee said he encourages his students to help fundraise for the orchestra.

“I have a fundraiser jar at all our concerts, and we get a little bit of money from that,” Lee said. “We also have a coffee fundraiser, and I encourage students to fundraise so that we have money for repairs and music and strings.”

According to Lee, the differing class sizes affect how much one-on-one help students can get.

“We have 59 students (in total),” Lee said. “Some days it is a little bit challenging, because one of my classes has 38 students and then the other class has 21. I’ve found that the bigger class is falling behind a little bit, which creates some issues.”

Being in an orchestra doesn’t just involve playing an instrument, but the community that is built as well, according to Hammer.

“I really like the music we play but also the people,” Hammer said. “I have a smaller class this year, but in general it’s a really good class because I enjoy who I’m in class with.” 

Junior Jack Kottke said he thinks the orchestra gives people a chance to create positive and impactful relationships among peers.

“The community is incredible,” Kottke said. “We all have to get along because we’re all playing the same pieces, but you build really good friendships between grades. It’s a great program. We do a lot for the community, and they do a lot for us.”