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Somers Student String Ensemble Goes for the Gold

SOMERS, N.Y. – Fourth- and fifth-graders comprising the Somers Intermediate School (SIS) String Ensemble received a Gold Award for their performance at the statewide New York State School Music Association (NYSSMA) Adjudication Festival.

The Somers students performed before a panel of judges at the festival; about 100,000 students take part in various festival events around that state.

“The kids did a lot of work for this,” said SIS strings teacher and orchestral director Arlene Wozniak. “They’ve been rehearsing together two and a half hours a week, including a period at 8 a.m. and another period after school. Then they have a lesson after that. More than half of them have been playing for less than a year.”

Although some children have started music lessons at home, most are introduced to instrumental music at school, Wozniak said. “Once they hear the various instruments, they gravitate toward the sound they like. Violin is the most popular.” Parents can rent instruments by the term, she said.

The string ensemble consists of violins, violas, cellos, bass and harp. “We were very fortunate to have a harp player this year,” said Wozniak, referring to fourth-grader Athena Traver. “It’s unusual to have a harpist play with an ensemble at such a young age.”

“The children learn that their performance starts and ends in the hallway. It’s more than just music: The audience shouldn’t hear them until they’re ready to perform. The way they enter the room is important. They also have to dress accordingly. The music should stand out. It’s more than just playing the notes on the page. Musicianship means learning to be respectful to the audience,” Wozniak said.

“They were like little pros,” noted one of the festival judges. “Their passion really came through."

"I’m extremely proud of them,” said Wozniak.

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