Despite missed school days, Inter El musicians don’t miss a beat

By Frances Taylor - Staff Writer
East Hartford - posted Thu., Feb. 17, 2011
Kayla Cooper, 11. plays cello  and Jordan Maragnano, 13, plays violin in the Inter-el orchestra. Photos by Frances Taylor.
Kayla Cooper, 11. plays cello  and Jordan Maragnano, 13, plays violin in the Inter-el orchestra. Photos by Frances Taylor.

Cyncere Preston, 11, has been playing violin for the three years. “I want to be a professional violinist someday,’’ she said. Cyncere is a member of the Inter El orchestra, which draws the top players from each of the town elementary schools into a band, chorus or orchestra.

 “I just really like the music.’’ Cyncere said, as the orchestra took a break while practicing the “Batman’’ theme.  “Its lots of fun – I like meeting different people and working with the instructors.’’

Students in the Inter-Elementary Honors Music Festival and Arts Exhibit get together for practice once a week in preparation for a spring concert and summer festival performance.  The young players get to meet students from other schools who share their interest in music and art, and work with teachers from the middle school and high school music programs.

The program begins each January and ends in May. It is in its 24th year, and was founded by Emil Kopcha, principal of Sunset Ridge School.

The students are working toward a March 30 performance, but this season’s frequent snowstorms that canceled schools also shut down their practices.  “We’ve missed two rehearsals because of snow days, and one rehearsal because of early dismissal,’’ said Laura A. White, supervisor of  Fine and Performing Arts K-12 program.  “So this is our second consecutive week.’’

But the show will go on, White said. “It is a little bit more of a challenge, but we have added a practice on Feb 23, which would have been a vacation day, and we have extended each practice by 15 minutes.’’

Kayla Cooper, 11, a student at Sunset Ridge elementary school, has played cello for five years. “I just really like the music and all of the people that I meet here,’’ she said.

Dana Lyons, who teaches music at Sunset Ridge and Norris schools, said the students benefit from their increased exposure to arts education.

In the orchestra program, “they get more experience in getting to play different types of notes, learning different string techniques,’’ Lyons said.

The students do not seem at all affected by the faster pace, she said. “We had kind of a rough start, but we are gaining momentum, and its going fantastic. I think they enjoy being here, and they are just taking it all in stride.’’  





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