Susick students hear a symphony

By: Maria Allard | C&G Newspapers | Published April 22, 2013

 Warren Symphony Orchestra members perform “Classicalpalooza” the morning of April 12 at Susick Elementary School in Warren Consolidated Schools.

Warren Symphony Orchestra members perform “Classicalpalooza” the morning of April 12 at Susick Elementary School in Warren Consolidated Schools.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

TROY — From a mini-concert with the Warren Symphony Orchestra to creating their own instruments, it was all about making beautiful music at Susick Elementary April 12.

With a $2,000 Target school grant, English language acquisition teacher Barbara Gottschalk made arrangements for seven WSO members to perform “Classicalpalooza” in the morning. Susick is part of Warren Consolidated Schools.

“The kids just loved it,” Gottschalk said.

During the afternoon, the students — enthused about the special concert for them earlier that day — made a variety of instruments using a Styrofoam tray and cup, straws, a clear plastic fast food container, a paper tube, rubber bands and the spout of a plastic water bottle. With the supplies, the students made instruments that represented each of the four classifications in an orchestra: string, woodwind, brass and percussion.

That’s exactly what they heard during the morning concert with WSO members Sherri Marttila, on violin; Irina Tikhonova, on cello; Dennis Carter, on flute; Rebecca Hammond, on oboe; Jason Borngesser, on trumpet; John Rutherford, on trombone; and percussionist Lynn Koch.

The musicians’ visit included instrument introductions and a short performance. There were two concerts: one for the lower elementary students and one for the upper elementary. The musicians even answered questions after the concert for the older students.

“I think one reason the musicians were so well-received by the students was that their teachers had prepared the students,” Gottschalk said. “We used part of the Target grant money to buy books for our library about the orchestra. Teachers were using these books in their read-alouds in the days before the concert and will be using them afterwards, too.”

“(Gottschalk) has been instrumental in setting this whole program up,” Susick Principal Pat Cavanaugh said. “The Warren Symphony Orchestra did a wonderful job for the students.”

Gottschalk said music teacher Anthony Case also helped with the event.

Taking a cue from the WSO, the students — broken down by grade — made their own instruments in the gymnasium in the afternoon. With Gottschalk giving directions on an overhead projector screen, the students made percussion sounds with the plastic containers and two straws. Another plastic straw was used for the woodwind sounds.

“Now we need to do the brass. You’re going to take your pre-made tube, and you’ll need your mouthpiece from the water bottle,” Gottschalk said. The Styrofoam cup was placed on the other side, in a backward fashion, for the amplifier.

If she had to pick her favorite symphony instrument, second-grade student Trinity Taylor would probably select the trumpet. “It was great,” she said of the WSO performance.

Student George Ackerly, who decorated his Styrofoam tray to resemble a rainbow, enjoyed the day’s events.

“I think it was really good,” said the second-grader, adding he moslty liked the horn. With help from his dad, Ackerly has tried a number of instruments, including the guitar, drums, bass and harmonica.

At press time, a group of second-grade students were scheduled to visit Cherrywood Nursing and Living Center in Sterling Heights April 24. Some residents helped  Gottschalk and the students by pre-assembling the materials for the instrument workshop. The students planned to sing “Musical MacDonald,” a take on “Old MacDonald,” to the resdients as a thank-you.