PITTSFIELD — The nearly 30 students involved in the advanced after school band, conducted by Senta Brodeur for four city elementary schools, recently participated in a five-stop tour, performing for hundreds of classmates, community seniors and complete strangers.
The group is combined of mostly second-year, and a few first-year students from Stearns, Willams, and Allendale elementary schools, and Conte Community School. Together, they performed with other band students and special guests on June 3, for the entire school day, making stops at Pittsfield High School, Stearns Elementary School, Williams Elementary School, Devonshire Estates, and even at the Burger King restaurant that's situated on the Pittsfield-Lenox line. The night before the tour, the kids also performed together in the auditorium at Herberg Middle School.
"The students are the nicest students and they have worked very hard," said Brodeur, who said, "it's been a while" since she's brought an elementary group on a public tour of this volume. "This group is exceptional."
Brodeur said that giving the students the opportunity to play a ranging repertoire for diverse sets of audiences helps students not only practice with their instruments, but helps gives them a sense of confidence and pride in their developing abilities to tackle more complex forms of music. It also teaches them to learn and listen as an ensemble, she said.
While beginners at the shows opened by playing some more simple pieces, like "Skip to My Lou" and "Star Spangled Banner," the advanced band took on popular symphonic songs from films, like composer John Williams' "Theme from Jurassic Park" and his "The Raiders March" from the 1981 Indiana Jones series starter, "Raider of the Lost Ark"; "Let it Go," composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez for the Disney film, "Frozen," and "Happy," the 2014 No. 1 neo-soul hit by Pharrell Williams that also appears in "Despicable Me 2."
"It's fun to get the opportunity to play at other schools," said Asa Chard, a fifth-grader at Williams Elementary, after performing for a packed gymnasium at Stearns.
"It makes you feel like you can accomplish things," said Tiffin Martin, a fifth-grader from Stearns.
Fifth-grader Tyler Vosburgh, a Williams fifth-grader, didn't play percussion at the beginning of this year, but was drumming and playing other rhythms adeptly during the performances. "I just looked at the music and though, OK, I could play it. I practiced a lot and have really grown," he said.
Brodeur said most of the music practice happens during the after-school sessions and on each students' own personal time. The teacher said she's proud to see the work ethic the students bring to rehearsals, as well as the support shown for one another.
"If you don't work as a team, you can't complete something," said Williams fifth-grader Kaleb Contini.
"A few weeks ago, these students could only play a few seconds of this," said Brodeur of the band before it performed "Let it Go." "Their key is definitely perseverance."