Letter from the Director: Online Orchestra

Dear Langley Orchestra families,

I hope this letter finds you healthy and ready for the start of our new school year. It feels like preparation for this school year keeps changing, faster than we seem to be able to keep up, but I am grateful that I will have the opportunity to work with all of my orchestra students and to be supported by this wonderful community.

I want to extend a special welcome to our new families. This is certainly not the way I intended to “meet” my new orchestra students and their families. But, I know that this online learning structure won’t last forever, and we will return to making music together, hopefully sooner rather than later.

I would like to take this opportunity to invite students and parents who are new to our program to our Orchestra Orientation tomorrow, Thurs, Sept 3 at 7 pm (see e-mail newsletter for details). We will present information about our orchestra program and Langley Orchestra Society (LOS) so that parents can also learn how to get involved behind the scenes.

In the meantime, I wanted to share with you my plans for orchestra this year. As many of you know, we were able to produce a collaborative distance recording of “Radioactive” last spring during distance learning period (link is available below). This fall, each of our orchestras will record, edit, assemble, and produce similar recordings in place of our scheduled concerts. I plan to utilize class time to introduce new music, composers and music styles, and to have some practice and/or recording time during each class as well. We will have smaller group breakouts during most of our classes, with sectionals planned as well. I am currently working on populating my new Schoology account with some of this information. As many of you know, technology is not my forte, so please be patient with me.

To the extent possible, I intend to prepare a “TV show” broadcast that we will present to our school community. This will include recordings of our musical selections, student presentation of the historical context of the literature, and maybe even some “reality TV” style clips that highlight the experiences of the students throughout the process. We may also be able to feature some of the students who have been organizing and recording chamber music in small groups and also include some individual senior spotlights.

I will plan the orchestra school year in four units. We will start with an exploration of film composers and jazz innovators which should give us some exciting options for our first recordings. Then we will continue with a program of some of my holiday favorites that we would have played at a live assembly but now will share remotely to bring cheer to our school community. I remain hopeful that improving conditions might bring some form of live music and in person instruction in the spring, but if not we will continue to refine our recording format to present the evocative music of Spain. Finally, we will culminate with an Out of This World space concert to celebrate the amazing class of 2021.

Meanwhile, our Tri-M honors students have been working hard to find new ways to interact and support the orchestra, such as the virtual Spirit Week when they shared themed photos. They will be relying more heavily on our website and social media accounts (Facebook and Instagram) to relay information, to highlight student accomplishments, and to share music-making.

I look forward to seeing you all online, and hopefully in person in the not-too-distant future.

Dr. McCormick (a.k.a. “Doc”)