Hitting The High Notes: Middle School Music to Boston Symphony Orchestra

By Mary Blake, WBZ NewsRadio 1030

BOSTON (CBS) – A pretty spring afternoon on Boston Common boasted the perfect complement to the 2014 Boston Public Schools Citywide Arts Festival. The Washington Irving Middle School Chorus was getting ready to take the stage on the Parkman Bandstand. As it turned out, members needed very little coaxing to try a practice run.

What started as a group of four quickly became twenty. One by one, the members of that chorus group walked over and started spontaneously singing. The sheer joy of singing was clearly etched in their faces.

Octavia Warren, who performed a solo at the spring festival, was right back at chorus practice this fall.

“I’m centered by a lot of music. I usually just, sing, whenever I want to. Just to try different melodies and different tones in my voice,” said Warren.

Six miles away at Symphony Hall, Rachel Childers has her special moments with music, playing second horn with the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

“I like right before the concert starts: getting ready, thinking about the music,” said Childers, whose goal when playing is to make her French horn sound like singing. “If I’m playing my instrument and it doesn’t sound like singing I’m not doing my job. Because singing is what’s compelling about it. It’s what draws people in.”

Childers also emphasizes the importance of playing in unison as an orchestra.

“You have to play the same thing as them to make the same kind of sound. You have to start at the same time. You know you can’t get ahead of them, because then you’re not being a good teammate. It’s a combination of working together and also learning to lead and to follow. You learn great skills,” she added.

Childers grew up in suburban Detroit attending public schools and was introduced to the French horn in the fourth grade.

“With French horn there’s only so much you can do on your own. A lot of it has to do playing with others. If I hadn’t had music in the schools, I wouldn’t have developed and I probably would have gotten frustrated and just put it away. It’s integral.”

Coming up in Part Two of Mary Blake’s music series, public school bands, from Mariachi bands to the marching bands.

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