Saskatoon symphony looks to educate and inspire students

Watch above: Members of the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra want to keep the halls alive with the sound of music. Joel Senick finds out about a school program that’s already in demand and planning to expand.

SASKATOON – Abyan Farah and Lincoln Russell have a few things in common: they both attend École College Park School, are in Grade 7 and play an instrument. They also say learning to play music is anything but easy.

“Sometimes you have to make sure that you don’t go too high so that your instrument doesn’t squeak,” said Farah, who plays the clarinet.

“The different positions in which you have to play the different notes,” said Russell, when asked what is the most difficult part of playing the trombone.

The two young musicians recently had the chance to listen and learn from the Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra (SSO). The group played their first school show of the year at the elementary school and hope to perform in more Saskatoon schools this year than ever before.

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“We want to kind of connect with music in the education world more, because that’s where we get to be able to expose kids to great music,” said SSO General Manager Mark Turner.

The program is part education, part entertainment. SSO principal bassoonist Stephanie Unverricht designed the show, which included pop hits like Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You,’ as well as classical pieces from various composers.

“It’s easy to go to the entertainment route and to play things that are very exciting, but we still want to be educational,” said Unverricht, who said she saw the SSO perform while growing up in Saskatoon.

 “In this show we wanted to teach about how the instruments make sound, teach a little bit about the history of composers.”

Unverricht also said the group looked at the required music curriculum to see how they could supplement the education that students were already getting in their school. École College Park band instructor Darcy Warrington said he jumped at the opportunity to get the SSO to perform at the school.

“It’s important to bring other people in who can maybe, not only teach them something that I couldn’t, but teach them something that is really valuable and that you wouldn’t want any student to miss out on,” said Warrington.

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The performance can also serve as motivation to budding musicians. Both Farah and Russell admitted to being inspired by the professional musicians who played in their school.

“To think that people can play at that certain level is crazy and mind blowing to me,” said Russell.

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