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Massena musicians go on tour of elementary schools

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MASSENA - Musicians from Massena Central High School and J.W. Leary Junior High School went on tour Friday.

Orchestra members visited each of the elementary schools in Massena to share some music and some words of encouragement for students in grades four, five and six who were interested in picking up a string instrument and joining them in the coming years.

This was the 10th year they’ve done the Orchestra Recruitment Tour, according to Director Mario Pratti.

He said the tour has two main objectives. One of those is to promote the string programs to the younger students who will have the chance to play once they reach the fifth grade.

“They become eligible to play in the fifth grade,” Mr. Pratti said.

The tour also creates an opportunity for high school musicians to take a lead role in providing musical training, technical assistance and coaching to the junior high and elementary orchestra members.

That, Mr. Pratti said, allows them to develop a connection and long-range view of how musicians grow in the district, and how they can create a continuum for the next class of young musicians.

“We want to generate interest in string instruments by the time they reach the fifth grade and give them exposure to the orchestra. Normally these kids don’t get to see a concert. We bring it to them,” he said.

The musicians visited Jefferson Elementary and Trinity Catholic schools for morning sessions and Nightengale and Madison elementary schools for afternoon sessions, playing selections that include the music of N. Rimsky-Korsakov, Soon Hee Newbold, Debra Baker Monday and Daniel Chisham.

Each presentation was about 35 minutes and gave Mr. Pratti and the musicians an opportunity to highlight each of the string instruments.

“We play for them and show each instrument and how it operates,” he said.

The first selection played by the students featured primarily the violin section, and he asked each of the violinists to hold up their instruments so the elementary students could see what they looked like.

Later, pointing out the cello section, he told the students, “They’re so big you have to sit down.”

The musicians gave a sample of what the cello sounded like, soon followed by other instruments like the bass.

By including the junior high students in the orchestra tour, “we give them a little exposure,” Mr. Pratti said.

The Orchestra Recruitment Tour featured music that the high school orchestra is preparing to perform in concert. That will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the high school auditorium.

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