Herricks summer music program is a big hit

Herricks summer music program is a big hit
Herricks students enjoying the four week summer music program offered through the district. (Photo courtesy of the Herricks Union Free School District)

The Herricks summer music program is back, with 100 eager Herricks student musicians entering grades four through nine. The program includes counselors from the high school’s Tri-M and some of the finest music educators. These four weeks have been filled with not only phenomenal music-making, but the students have had a lot of fun building friendships and learning new music. The program took place at Herricks Middle School and has become a well-known favorite within the schools and the Herricks community since 2010.

Participants received several hours of varied musical experiences throughout the four-week program. Students participated in band or orchestra, chorus and elective opportunities under the direction of professional music educators. Orchestra students learned pieces in various styles as well as selections from popular movies. The band also explored various styles such as jazz improvisation and rock and roll. Students learned “I Love Rock and Roll,” by Joan Jett, without written music. Students also learned how to improvise solos.

Each day began with chorus where students were able to sing and dance to pop tunes such as “Try Everything” from Zootopia in addition to other cultural songs such as the Nigerian greeting song, “Funga Alafia.” During electives, students were exposed to musical theater and the ukulele. The students also participated in small group lessons with volunteer counselors who are members of the Herricks High School Tri-M Music Honor Society.

A rising sixth grader, Julia, who has been playing the trombone since third grade, was a first-time attendee this year and said what she loves the most about the program is trying new things like, “on the spot solo playing, whatever comes to mind.” She also appreciated the one-on-one experience and would highly recommend this program to anyone who enjoys playing an instrument.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for musicians to stay engaged over the summer,” said music teacher Jesse Torres, who has been involved in the program since 2011. “It gives students a different perspective and encourages them to hone their skills in a fun, low pressure, more creative environment.”

During one elective period, elementary groups worked on creating storyboards for theater skits and then began filling in dialogue, assigning roles, blocking, and using props to help tell their story. Intermediate groups developed and practiced their ukulele skills through improvisation and sight reading. They collaborated on their song choices and learned “Lava,” “Riptide,” and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” Herricks High School STAC

and Theatre teacher Rob Gioia, joined with Summer Music teacher Diana Minerva for one week leading some games and helpful acting tips.

Herricks graduate, Alannah Egan, who has been involved since 2016 as a student, a volunteer and now head counselor said, “The camp definitely provides a unique experience, giving students the chance to explore music in a nontraditional setting.” Some of the things she appreciates most, the camp gives the student musicians a chance to create their own music from ear, improvising solos and experiencing other instruments.

Over the four weeks, there were a variety of special related events and guests. The Herricks Music Boosters sponsored Bash the Trash. This group of professional musicians perform and educate with musical instruments made from reused and repurposed materials. They played rock music on instruments made from random materials and shared different ways to reuse trash to help our planet. In addition, two Herricks alumn, Music teacher Jesse Torres and well-known Ukulele player Chris Treatch performed together for the whole camp. Also sponsored by Herricks Music Boosters, students enjoyed a repeat visit from the band Squeaky Clean who exposed student various rock and roll songs from the 50’s to today. Students were dancing in the aisles!

Among the fun and music was a new, unique addition to the program, which was the Garageband Workshop implemented by Herricks High school senior and Tri-M Vice President, Patrick Leu. This workshop promoted a nontraditional avenue of creating music. Through this workshop, several students were taught the basics of how to use Garageband, and were subsequently given the opportunity to create their own unique song. Students were able to conclude this one-week experience with a complete piece of music!

The program concluded with two culminating concert performances. The first was small ensemble groups and the second was the full band, orchestra, and chorus along with featured performances from the ukulele and musical theatre groups.

“I continue to be proud of our young musicians and am thrilled we were able to provide another successful Summer Music Program for our students,” Director of Fine and Performing Arts Anissa Arnold said. “Students were able to enrich what they have learned during the school year, but most importantly, they are making music together while having fun with fellow musicians from the Herricks music community.”

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