Orchestra students luck out in second semester final

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Orchestra students luck out in second semester final

Orchestra students work on completing research for the ensemble project, which is part of the second semester orchestra final.

Orchestra students work on completing research for the ensemble project, which is part of the second semester orchestra final.

Annie Warner

Orchestra students work on completing research for the ensemble project, which is part of the second semester orchestra final.

Annie Warner

Annie Warner

Orchestra students work on completing research for the ensemble project, which is part of the second semester orchestra final.

Annie Warner, Copy Editor

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For PVHS second semester orchestra students, it can be discouraging as they sit down to take their written final while the band and choir perform concerts in lieu of their final.

Each branch of the music department–band, orchestra, and choir–fulfill the requirement of finals in different ways. As they are not typical classes where students are lectured the entire semester, the tests vary in subject matter and form. As junior Grace Almgren explained, “choir is a performance based class; therefore, it is fitting that our final assessment is a performance.”

The choir program has a written final for the first semester. This final consists of vocabulary terms, music theory principles, facts about pieces performed during the semester, and more musically and chorally based information. As briefly stated by Almgren, the choir performs multiple songs at graduation for their second semester final. Choir students are not required to take any form of written test for this final.

“I love being able to perform for the choir instead of taking a written final,” Almgren said. “Performing assesses us on what we prepare in class: music.”

Band students also take a written final first semester. This final consists of marching band rules and terms, rhythm aptitude, music theory, and compositional skills in order to demonstrate an understanding of how music is structured. For the second semester final, 10th and 11th grade band students perform multiple pieces for graduation, while the freshman band plays for veterans on Memorial Day at an elementary school.

However, orchestra students are required to take a written final both semesters. This final has several aspects; it consists of vocabulary terms, music theory, rhythm aptitude, and an analyzation of multiple articles about the music community or advances in music. There is also a solo project first semester and an ensemble project second semester where students choose a piece to analyze, research, practice and perform.

Many orchestra students are frustrated with not being able to have a performance for their second semester final rather than completing the written final. Ashley Lie-Atjam, a senior who has participated in orchestra every year of high school, commented on the situation.

“On top of it being super difficult to study for the orchestra final, it doesn’t feel like an accurate representation of what we learn in orchestra,” Lie-Atjam said. “It skips over a lot of aspects, such as practicing the music and learning performance etiquette, which are fundamental aspects to musical education- it’s difficult to see why we can’t have a performance, like the choir and band.”

Although options have been discussed for what the orchestra could do as the second semester final, there are simply no performance venues available that could serve as a proper final. However, orchestra students who wish to have this alternate, more situationally appropriate style of assessment are actively looking for opportunities. Hopefully, in the near future, orchestra students will be able to have a final performance of their own.