A Day With Chamber Strings

A Day With Chamber Strings

Shane Fite
eSomethin Staff

For the PHS chamber strings orchestra, the daily agenda is a little bit outside of the box.

The class starts out very normal. The orchestra director, Mr. Mick Smith, gets the attention of the class. He tunes the concert master’s violin. The instruments are tuned by section, and the class then plays scales.

Following the scales and some vibrato exercises, Mr. Smith leads a stretching session.

Students stretching
Students cracking their backs for stretches
Photographer: Shane Fite

The stretches include single-handed claps, cracking your knuckles and back, and “the Kelsie B stretch,” consisting of leaning backwards over a chair and touching your elbows behind your back.

When the class finishes stretching, Mr. Smith occasionally asks if anyone has something they would like to share. Everybody shares random details, occasionally advertising their clubs and extracurriculars. As for myself, I mention eSomethin’ on a regular basis.

The idea of sharing starts the day on a positive note. Something many people don’t think about is that withholding good news can hurt just as much as bottling up bad things.  

Two students playing bass
Two students playing bass
Photographer: Shane Fite

Giving an opportunity to share lets students open up and talk about things they’re proud of. It also lightens up the room, especially when a student says something completely bizarre or humorous. 

These may seem like very small ideas, but the way Mr. Smith teaches affects students in many positive ways. Once the students have finished stretching, sharing, and warming up, they are ready and excited to play their instruments.


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