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Pelham Middle School Orchestra Sixth Graders Play Under 'Pressure'

PELHAM, N.Y. – The Pelham Middle School Orchestra Concert took place Wednesday night in front of a packed Pelham Memorial auditorium of family and friends.  Sixth, seventh, and eighth graders performed various pieces of music, including classic holiday songs such as “Deck the Halls,” “Ode to Joy,” and “Trepak” by Tchaikovsky and Dackow.

The hour-long event featured a total of 11 songs – six played by the sixth graders and five from the seventh and eighth graders.  Michele Zanky, orchestra director, was pleased with how well her students executed the music and overcame certain hurdles.

“These kids are fun,” said Zanky. “A lot of them started studying in third grade. So they had elementary school lessons. Some of them have a little bit of playing in an ensemble. But, this is the first time where they really have the pressure of getting up there and playing a concert. It’s a little more pressure for them,” she said referring to her sixth graders.

One of the problems was having the 13 sixth graders practice together.

“They didn’t schedule the sixth graders together, so I have them in pieces,” said Zanky. “The sixth graders are coming in and their experience is not much at all playing in an orchestra like this. So, you have to sort of train them, and it takes a little longer than this time to do.”

The 17 seventh and eighth graders worked hard as well because they were not always practicing together either.

“The seventh and eighth graders have pressure too because it’s a mixed group,” said Zanky. “It’s mixed grades so it’s a different animal every year.”

Jennifer Lewis, mother of violinist Janne Lewis, said she loved the concert.

“It was great,” Lewis said. “Ms. Zanky said they didn’t get to rehearse and they rehearsed the past couple of days. They sounded good, really good.”

Student Janne Lewis was nervous about how the sixth grade orchestra would perform because they were having some trouble during rehearsal. It turns out that she was thrilled with the performance.

“I think we did really well because before, when we were practicing, at least one person really messed up and then we would have to start again,” said Lewis. She started playing the violin in second grade and also takes private lessons.

Zanky is hoping that more kids will take advantage of musical opportunities.

“My goal for everybody, no matter what level they’re at, is that they sponsor, they purchase music, live music,” Zanky said. “They go to concerts and I’m not talking about rock ‘n’ roll. I’m talking about acoustic instruments and going and hearing these great symphonies and hearing all this great music that’s been around for hundreds of years."

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