PESHTIGO—Students in Peshtigo showcased their musical growth this year through their winter concerts.
The Peshtigo High School winter concert consisted of several pieces of choral music performed by the concert choir and acapella choir groups, as well as the concert band and jazz band. The Peshtigo Middle School winter concert consisted of the concert choir and concert band both performing several pieces.
Families were able to attend the high school and middle school concerts in person, or view the live stream from home. At the Peshtigo Elementary Learning Center, each grade performed separate selections, and the other grade levels made up the audience while the performance was live streamed for families at home.
“The kids played an incredible concert, and I’m so proud of their hard work” said district band director Deanna Fried. “Both the jazz band and concert band played some difficult music, and they rose to the challenge.
“There is not a single student who didn’t pull his/her weight when rehearsing and preparing for this concert.”
For the high school group, Fried explained that “Sleigh Ride” especially is a “Concert Band Christmas Classic,” but is a very challenging piece for high school musicians.
“I knew they could make it happen, and they sounded fantastic,” she said.
Fried had students listen to a recording of the first time the group performed it, and compared it to the concert performance. “The difference was incredible,” she said.
The students felt proud about their performance. Senior Maggie Fernandez states, “Although we had some setbacks due to COVID, thanks to the determination and positivity of everyone, we’re standing proud again”
“We have learned to work and play together as a group, instead of 30 musicians playing together at the same time,” observed junior Lauren Halfmann.
Senior Jade Allman said, “Although we can still improve, balance has been getting better in producing an overall better sound.”
Junior Beverly Bloch has a similar observation, “Our confidence has greatly improved, which in turn, makes the sound of our performance clearer and stronger.”
Performing for an audience is not just what band members love about their performance. Students express that they love learning something new and learning how to create music.
Senior Layla Camps said, “Learning to play an instrument I have wanted to play since I was young feels really cool!”
Halfmann has a similar sentiment, “I love to be able to bring the music I love to life and play whenever I want.”
“I love how it gives you the chance to show off your creativity and you develop new talents,” shares junior Troy Kosobucki.
Junior Marshall Bennett agrees, saying that he finds satisfaction in being able “to play an instrument that produces music that makes people happy.”
Chorus students share a similar appreciation for improving and learning together within a community. Junior Elizabeth Burd said, “You’re constantly learning how to improve the skills you already have. We’ve gotten better at coming together during a song.”
Sophomore Audrey Campbell shared that she has loved making new friends and “we have gotten better with our vowel shapes, and delivery of sound.”
Eighth grade student Eva Andrews feels similar saying the group’s “vocal range, breath support, and pitch accuracy” have improved.
“Since August, our choir has improved a lot. We’ve learned how to sing together as a group, and how to sing
most effectively,” shared Halfmann who is in both band and choir.
Students’ enjoyment of band and choir goes deeper than learning the music. Playing an instrument or singing in choir also helps students develop friendships. “It’s a fun way to get to know new people,” shares freshman Isabelle Valitchka.
Senior Maggie Fernandez said, “I love how each musician gets to feel important, but we still “I love the friendships and the fun we have in band,” shares freshman Evelyn Hurley.
Andrews said, “Choir is like a family that is full of care and trust. You are able to feel safe and comfortable.”
Allman shares that she appreciates “the sense of community that both band and choir provide”
At the elementary level, music teacher Lane Ludtke chose songs centered around the theme of snow for each of the grade levels. The PELC concert consisted of familiar classics like “Frosty the Snowman” and “White Christmas,” as well as some lesser known songs like “Stories in the Snow.”
Lutke explained that “we added actions to songs, had small groups of singers, and used different props” to add to the performance. For the third grade performance, “students ended their last last song by throwing pretend snowballs out towards the audience.”
For both the fifth and sixth grade performances, one song had an accompaniment of approximately 20 ukulele players. Elementary students had fun with their performance, too.
Fourth grade student Rylee Monnette “enjoyed the actions with the songs” and “I liked watching all the other grades sing.”
Second grade student, Lexi Marcotte, said she loved having a special singing part to the song “A Nice December Day.”
Fifth grade student, Amari Rymer, was proud to “perform in front of an audience both singing and playing the ukulele!”
Sixth grade student Zetta Bennett said, “I like watching the younger students sing,” saying it reminded her of singing when she was younger.
Bennett also shared, “I love how music can put you in a good mood.”
The Peshtigo music program is helping students learn to sing and play music, as well as
develop friendships, according to instructors.
There are also many additional benefits of music education.
“Band and choir both strengthen many skills in math, reading, and writing, as well as other personal skills like understanding and working together.”
Junior Beverly Bloch also said they help with self-confidence. Bennett adds, “If you want to become a better person by expressing yourself through beautiful and heavenly music that will cleanse your soul, then join band.”