Confidence, Patience, Persistence: What our Students Have Learned from our Orchestra Program


“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Anderson

What is the role that music plays in the lives of some of our students? That’s the question we posed to five of our Upper School orchestra students.

The following is excerpted from a question and answer session with Abigail Hedgecock ’19 – violin, Thomas Leck ’18 – violin, Jackson Cooksey ’18 – violin, Cali Proper ’20 – cello, and Anna Ruth Morrison ’20 – viola. This post is part of a series in conjunction with CAFTA, Cannon’s Advocates for the Arts, to help draw awareness to the amazing arts programs here at the school.

How does being part of a music program like orchestra (often referred to as strings here at Cannon) affect your everyday life?

Jackson – I like playing the violin because my orchestra class is a time for me to relax and express myself through my music.

Anna Ruth – I think orchestra is a great way to learn teamwork early and learn how to gel together.  It’s not just one person doing all of the work…it’s violas, cellos, violins, and bass all working together.

Do you feel you have developed relationships with the people you have met through strings?  Have any friendships formed as a result?

Abigail – It’s nice (that) you are in orchestra class with more than just your grade.  My stand partner is a junior, and I may not have talked to him if he weren’t my stand partner, so it gives us a connection.

abigail

What is something you have learned about yourself through strings or being in music at Cannon?

Thomas – I wouldn’t have thought I would even be able to play a violin, but I tried, and it wound up being something I liked and stuck with.

Abigail – I also think through playing a musical instrument at Cannon, and playing piano, I learned to stick with (things). I wanted to quit in fifth grade because it was hard, and there were some people that had been playing since they were little and they were very good. I wasn’t very good, but my mom wouldn’t let me quit. I learned that if you stick with something you can do it. I’m glad I stuck with it.

Anna Ruth – It’s given me a lot of confidence in myself.  Even if it was hard, if I practiced over and over again, I could get it. (It was) just some hard work, patience, and practice. This happens in school too, if you can’t get a concept you keep going and trying….strings has taught me that.

anna-ruth

Cali – I relate to Anna Ruth—I learned patience and determination because I had to push myself a lot during strings since I had never played before fifth grade. You need patience to get through the really hard pieces…you aren’t going to get your piece the first time you try it.

Jackson – I think (I’ve learned) confidence because it takes a lot of guts to stand up on stage in front of people and play a solo. It takes a lot of practice, hard work, and dedication to make sure you are prepared for that.  That kind of hard work and practice builds up your confidence to play, but it sticks around so you can apply it to other things.

So, the music program at Cannon has taught you dedication, confidence…anything else?

Anna Ruth – It has helped me because Cannon is all about core values and I feel like in strings you have to demonstrate all of them. You have to have passion, teamwork, kindness, and respect. So I feel like strings has helped me to realize how to use all of the core values and put them together.

Cali – I think that it taught me the core value of kindness—to be kind to myself, because it’s really easy to beat yourself down if you don’t get the piece the first time or the second time.

To end, Upper School strings teacher Anne Marie Samuel had this to share:

“The reason I became a strings teacher is to share my love of music with students.  I love how students will listen to music with such open and eager minds.  It is also so rewarding to watch them grow over the years and find their own unique musical voices.”