Polytechnic Upper School Orchestra and First-Graders Learn the Joys of “Giving Bach”

Benefiting from Poly’s K-12 environment, Poly’s first-graders were recently part of the Upper School Orchestra’s inaugural “Giving Bach” performance. The Orchestra’s 13 members, led by Middle and Upper School music teacher Ria Kubota, welcomed their younger counterparts with a few pieces, including Brandenburg Concerto, No. 2, Mvt. I by J.S. Bach (arranged by Merle J. Isaac) and Back to the Future by Alan Sylvestri (arranged by Sean O’Loughlin), during which the first-graders were invited to wander through the two rows of musicians to observe them playing up close.

The musicians were then introduced, and each played a few measures of the same song so the students could hear the different sounds made by each instrument. Richard Meyer’s lively piece Remote Control was the final piece performed by the Orchestra; the song features tidbits from Eine Kleine Nachtmusik, Beethoven’s Seventh, and Stars and Stripes Forever, with brief stops at the Opera and Sci-Fi, all puncuated by bells that represented a remote control, complete with pause and mute. As a fun surprise, the first-graders were invited to join the Orchestra members, who showed them how to play a few measures (with assistance, of course) on their instruments.

As part of the program, the Orchestra members were asked to journal first about their expectations of the program, and then after about their observations.

Senior Jessica J. shared her earlier experience with the Upper School Orchestra: “I remember when … the high school orchestra came over and performed for us. I was awed, but I don’t remember being able to tell how good or how badly the orchestra played. It was actually the energy and the vibe that I got which was most positive about the experience for me. So I think when we are playing, the important thing is not to get every note right but to really enjoy it.”

Junior Nathan L. expressed what he hoped to get out of the experience: “I’m hoping that interacting with them and seeing their exuberance at the opportunity will make me more motivated to bring my music to even more people.”

Freshman Maya B. hoped that she could inspire someone the same way she was: “I was inspired to take up an instrument when I saw people playing and explaining their instruments in a way similar to the Giving Bach performance. There may be some small person having the same reaction that I did at their age and choosing to pick up an instrument, too.”

“This interactive performance gave our older students the opportunity to build leadership skills, empathy and confidence through the vehicle of music. I hope that this experience gave them inspiration to seek out additional ways to bring joy to those around them,” reflected Mrs. Kubota, who was thrilled to bring Giving Bach to Poly. “I’m not sure who had more fun, the first-graders or the high school students.”

The goal of the “Giving Bach” Program is to enrich the lives of young people by providing opportunities for student musicians to perform for their peers in concerts that are educational and interactive.

Polytechnic School, 1030 E. California Blvd, Pasadena, (626) 396-6300 or visit www.polytechnic.org.


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