Community Orchestra aims to increase its fundraising

Friday, October 5, 2018
The Carroll County Community Orchestra features adult musicians and band students from across the county. Rehearsals are held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Monday in the Berryville High School band room and are open to musicians of all skill levels.
Photo by Tavi Ellis/Carroll County News

Last year, the Carroll County Community Orchestra raised enough money to send 20 kids to music camps. This year, conductor Jim Swiggart said the goal is to send at least 30 kids.

“That means we will have to raise quite a bit of money,” he said. “It’s about $350 per kid on average for music camps.”

The orchestra began meeting for fall rehearsals at the end of September. Swiggart said the orchestra rehearses from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. every Monday in the Berryville High School band room. There will be both a Christmas and a spring concert, he said, and the dates are to be determined.

He said the orchestra is larger than ever this year.

“Last year, we had I think 44 or 45 members for our spring concert,” Swiggart said. “We already have 55 people. The orchestra is starting to blossom. We have a few new adults and a lot of new kids. That’s very exciting.”

He said the orchestra is currently working on a variety of selections for its Christmas concert.

“We have some marches, jazz, some traditional band selections, Cajun music and some Dixieland music,” he said. “We’re hitting a lot of categories.”

The great thing about the orchestra, Swiggart said, is that it has something to offer for both new and experienced musicians.

“For an adult, it’s a chance to recreate those great feelings they had playing in band in high school and college,” he said, “and they have a chance to associate with young musicians and be a role model. I think that’s very key.”

Swiggart continued, “If I’m a young kid and I don’t see anyone playing past college and I’m not a real good player, that’s the end of your life musically. You’ve got to find somebody to look up to.”

Swiggart said he has contacted the band teachers at Alpena, Berryville, Green Forest and Eureka Springs schools about having some of their students participate in the orchestra. The wide variety of music that students will read and play while in the orchestra helps them develop techniques that will allow them to be better musicians, he said.

“For students, we want them to be able to experience a lot of music that they don’t see in their public school,” he said. “When they do, they are better musicians because they have experience playing more difficult pieces.”

Students participating in the orchestra said the wide variety of music offers an exciting challenge for them.

Berryville student Whitney Taylor, who plays saxophone, said this is her first year in the orchestra.

“My teacher told me about this. I didn’t know what it was, but she said it paid for band camp,” Taylor said. “So I came here. At first, it was really hard, but now it’s fun. It’s still hard, but it’s getting easier. I really like the harder music.”

“It’s another chance to play,” said Berryville student Bryce O’Dell. “My dad wanted me to join. This is my first year, and it’s been fun so far.”

Berryville student Rylie Punchak, who plays trumpet, said this is also her first year in the orchestra.

“My band director said that not only is it fun but it teaches better music,” she said, “and I wanted to become a better musician.”

Berryville student Brody Perkins said being part of the orchestra has helped him grow as a musician because he’s no longer the only tuba player.

“Being able to play with other people of my same instrument has been helpful,” he said, “because in our middle school band last year I was the only one.”

Jamie Bellinger of Johnson, who also plays tuba, said he originally participated in the orchestra when he was going to high school in Green Forest.

“I have some time to do it again, so I decided to come back,” he said. “I like actually getting to play. Solo practice is one thing but having other people around to play music with is awesome.”

Alpena student CJ Anderson, who plays flute, said the orchestra is an extra challenge outside of band class.

“It’s an opportunity to interact with some players who have been playing for their whole lives,” Anderson said. “It helps me improve past what I’ve already been doing. I really recommend it for all levels of players. It’s insane how much you can learn.”

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