Orchestra at ACE
My name is Rachael Smith and I am privileged to serve as orchestra teacher at ACE. I began playing violin in public school as a fifth grader and majored in music education during college. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Music Education from Indiana Wesleyan University, in Marion, Indiana, and a Master of Music Education from Georgia College and State University. I have been teaching orchestra in Bibb County for the past ten years. While teaching in Bibb County, I received an award as part of the Race to the Top federal grant in 2015 and was awarded a Teach to Inspire Grant from the Peyton Anderson Foundation in 2017. I enjoy playing the violin at church, for my friends and family, and “gigging” for weddings and other special occasions. Teaching was my first career choice, the love of my professional life, and am looking forward to teaching the wonderful students at ACE.
All fourth and fifth graders at ACE are enrolled in violin class as part of ACE’s classical curriculum. My main goal is to nurture a love for music in all students regardless of whether they choose to enroll in a music ensemble in sixth grade or pursue other interests. Curriculum utilized includes Suzuki pieces, American fiddle tunes, and the Vamoosh book series designed by Thomas Gregory.
Junior high students who are interested in continuing violin or exploring viola, cello, or bass are encouraged to enroll in orchestra as sixth graders. Seventh and eighth-grade students may enroll in beginning, intermediate or advanced orchestra to continue learning advanced technique on their instruments.
High School students can continue to develop their instrumental skills by enrolling in several levels of orchestra classes. In high school, three years of orchestra meets the requirement for a career pathway.
Stringed instruments are among the most diverse instruments in the world because of their fretless fingerboards. Around 1790, the violin was introduced to the country of India and is now a staple of Carnatic Music. In the 1930s, violins were sometimes part of jazz ensembles. Today, the upright bass is commonly found in both wind ensembles and jazz bands. Of course, instrumentalists who play the violin, viola, cello and bass constitute about 60% of the population of a symphony orchestra. (We let a few of the band members’ play with us!)
At ACE, students are given multiple opportunities throughout the year to practice and perform. All junior high and high school students enrolled in orchestra receive daily instruction from Ms. Smith. In addition, students perform at four concerts during the school year and at Large Group Performance Evaluation.
Successful orchestra students and parents understand that orchestra is a commitment on the part of each orchestra member. Orchestra students will need to purchase or rent an instrument. A limited number of school instruments are available for those with financial need. Ms. Smith requests that parents contact her before renting or purchasing an instrument in order to discuss instrument quality and rental options. All students are expected to pay orchestra dues and acquire rosin, a cleaning cloth, and the appropriate method book for their ensemble. We utilize the Essential Elements for Strings method book series in class. Cello and bass students will need to purchase an endpin stop and violin and viola students, a shoulder rest.
Orchestra students are encouraged to be involved with other school activities. I have taught bass players who also played football, violists involved in the drama club, and violinists on the soccer team, just to name a few. I look forward to teaching many scholars here at ACE!
Questions? E-mail Ms. Smith at Rachael.firstname.lastname@example.org