Alanna D., Arts & Entertainment

The time to make music has begun. Ms. Wheatley and Ms. Boonshaft along with several other Academy students are entering Haugen Hall at 7:30 in the morning each week to practice pieces for the Staten Island Academy orchestra. Orchestra is the perfect way to make music for SIA, allows members to show students and teachers what they know, and is open to students of all ranges of experience. 

The orchestra is composed of two parts, percussion and strings. Students with any experience with an instrument can see Ms. Wheatley or Ms. Boonshaft for information about joining orchestra. Even if they have no experience at all with any instrument and want to learn, the academy also offers after school lessons, so they are able to make music alongside their peers. Ms. Wheatley, the strings orchestra instructor says, “You have to start somewhere and you will gradually gain more experience as you go on.” Being a part of the orchestra is hard work. “Time commitment and working practice into your routine is important,” but still is a great opportunity. The orchestra help open opportunities. 

The orchestra also offers opportunities to work with outside, professional musicians. Although students might be most comfortable with being with people they know and with their friends, it’s always good to get tips and tricks from other people. The orchestra has previously played with the Philharmonic Orchestra, Richmond County Orchestra, and the Brighton Height Reformed Church youth orchestra. Daniel B., a 7th grade student and former orchestra member says, “I was excited to play with professionals and older more experienced musicians.” Students can have the opportunity to play alongside people younger and older, they get a sense of what working with outside musicians can be like, take in new settings, and work with different people. The orchestra offers new experiences. 

When part of the orchestra, students are also able to perform in and experience new settings. Orchestra members are able to perform at different locations outside of the school such as Carnegie Hall, and Snug Harbor. Ms. Wheatley adds, “Our concerts are always exciting, and we get to play off campus.”  When students are orchestra members, they get a sense of what it’s like to perform outside of school. Not just the locations but the performances themselves make the orchestra so enjoyable. When performing outside of the academy students get a chance to see their name listed in a program which is a pretty big deal. Even if students don’t feel confident or comfortable with performing outside of school, other orchestra members will be there to support them, which also makes the orchestra such a nice environment. Brian C, a 7th grade and new orchestra members says, “Orchestra members are great to work with. They are nice and cooperative.” The orchestra allows members to make connections with other musicians.  

So, whether SIA students are professionals or just starting out, the Staten Island Academy orchestra group is a resource to help guide students. If they ever want to learn an instrument, or learn more about the orchestra, Ms. Wheatley and Ms. Boonshaft and all the other orchestra members will be here to help. After all, it can never hurt to make a little music.