High School Chamber Orchestra Performs with GVSU!

thumb_MIII1290_1024 copyThe fall performance season was enriched by another year of the Jenison High School Chamber Orchestra partnership with the Grand Valley State University Symphony Orchestra.
In 2008 Jenison was the first high school orchestra asked to do a side by side concert with Grand Valley and they met up again on the stage of the JCA at the end of October this year.  The entire 70 member GVSU Symphony Orchestra was represented, including all woodwinds, brass, and percussion. The Jenison Chamber Orchestra is an elite musical ensemble made up of the top violin, viola, cello and bass players at Jenison High School.  Students are in 10th – 12th grade and perform a rigorous audition in the spring to be accepted into the ensemble.  Though the size of the group varies it’s roughly 25 students each year.
thumb_MIII1280_1024 copyDirector Dan Scott says, “Jenison students rehearsed in class [while also preparing our fall concert and our performance for the Betty Ford Breast Cancer Awareness Event], but they also had one 90 minute rehearsal with the GVSU Symphony on the day of the concert.”
The concert opened with the brass players from GVSU performing Fanfare from ‘La Peri by Paul Dukas from the balcony.  Included in the GVSU part of the program will also be Mars  from ‘The Planets by Gustav Holst followed by the Jenison Chamber Orchestra performing by themselves.  The GVSU Symphony performed three works by themselves before everyone joined together to perform Night on Bald Mountain by Mussorgsky.
Henry Duitman, GVSU Director of Orchestras explains how the side by side aspect works:  “For the Mussorgsky piece, the GVSU Strings will sit “side by side” with the Jenison High School Chamber Orchestra strings.  This gives younger students a chance to learn from older students and gives the entire string section the full sound that this mighty work requires.  It is a lot of fun for the students as well.  thumb_MIII1269_1024 copyOur students love to perform with the high school students and were especially looking forward to performing in the wonderful new Jenison Center for the Arts.”
Professor Duitman knows that music education is about more than performances and reading music. “This is just one more way of exposing students, parents, and the community to the exciting world of classical music, an important part of any liberal arts education.”
Mr Scott adds that the experience of playing alongside college students has a deep value as well. “This was a wonderful opportunity to learn about continuing to play their instruments in college.  Our students worked with students who are still playing in college while experiencing the musical level and expectations of a college ensemble.   As usual, our students were excellent musicians and people throughout the experience.”
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Thank you to both Mr Scott + Professor Duitman for bringing together these two very talented groups of musicians!  Students, we’re so proud of your talent and hard work!  Keep it up!

GVSU Collaborates on Rosewood’s Family Math Night

How many spiders and insects could you make if you were given five play dough “bodies” and forty pipe cleaner “legs”?

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

This was just one of the many questions posed by the GVSU Mathematics Department students who helped to facilitate Rosewood’s “Family Math Fun Night” this past Tuesday. Grand Valley students currently enrolled in Math for Elementary Teachers, along with Professor Pam Wells, organized the night to offer opportunities for practical application of the concepts they’ve been polishing in class.

Peter Rau and Chelsea Henrizi were two of Professor Wells’ students assisting at a table with abacuses. Peter summarized the goal of the night was to “set up a math event that would engage children of all ages and include extensions for those farther along with their math skills, all while keeping it fun.”

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

Chelsea, a visually impaired student, shared that using math manipulatives has opened a whole new world for her. She credits Professor Wells with going above and beyond to make accommodations for her and make math come alive.

“As a blind student myself, I’ve always loved doing math with my hands. It’s helped me to understand concepts from basic adding and subracting to data and probability. I’d love to work with blind children because I didn’t get proper adaptations growing up. I’d like to change that for others.”

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

Students of all grade and ability levels swarmed to one of the dozen tables to dive into games involving everything from geoboards to polygons.

Parents like Heather Noah said that her family reads a lot, but they don’t often spend extra time on math. Rosewood’s Family Math Fun Night gave them the opportunity to work together on concepts her daughter is learning in class.  “We’re excited to be here!” she said.

Others like Kristin Graham were excited to see their children engaged and enthusiastic. “I think it’s good for kids to keep learning fun,” she shared.

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

But fun is only part of it. Professor Wells wants to encourage kids to math with their families much like they already read with their families. Furthermore, she hopes her GVSU students make strides as the next generation of elementary teachers.

“I really want my students to go out the door confident in their mathematics capabilities — really understanding the concepts. Most of them think about how they learned math and we want to relearn it and unpack it. We’re training them to think about math from a teacher’s perspective instead of from a learner’s perspective.”

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU

Math Nights like the one at Rosewood provide a way for Jenison kids to re-connect with old concepts, learn new strategies, and engage students around academics with their parents outside of the traditional school day.

If you were able to attend this event, what was your favorite part? Please leave a comment below!

JPS Math Night, Rosewood Elementary, Grand Valley State University, GVSU