Stringing Together a Strong Orchestra Program

In 2020, history was made here at Northville Public Schools by implementing orchestra.
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"To me, it’s just that that’s the coolest thing about music is that it has no limits. So I’m super excited that we blew down a door and brought in an orchestra program as well," said Johanne Ray-Hepp, Orchestra Director at Northville Public Schools.
The inaugural year only included 6th graders at both middle schools. The following year was 6th and 7th graders, and now this year it's offered to 6th, 7th, and 8th graders.
"I’m very proud to be honest. It was actually really cool that I was in 6th grade right here at Meads when it started and I’m very lucky to be here playing in this orchestra," mentioned Anvi, 8th grade orchestra student at Meads Mill Middle School. 
Ms. Ray-Hepp says she loves seeing the smiles on her student's faces knowing they now have a place to soar musically. "I remember having a kid who plays sitar and a kid who played hammer dulcimer and there’s lots of kids who play in garage bands, I just want them all to have a place in the public schools, they’re all part of our community and I just feel like we should never shut a door on a kid who wants to play music," said Ms. Ray-Hepp.
Edwin, a 7th grade orchestra student at Meads Mill said, "I feel like it’s really fun because when I was in elementary school I didn’t really see anybody who played instruments like me, maybe like some people, most people were into sports or occasionally piano but when I came here to orchestra I see people wanting to tryout like violin, cello, bass, viola and seeing that made me feel happy."
And the wheels are in motion for Orchestra to be introduced next year at the high school.
"The plan was to have a year to year rollout. Next year we’ll have it with the high school kids too but this year we’re actually, our Sinfonia, our advanced orchestra, is including high school kids too so we had a little bit of an inbetween year," explained Ms. Ray-Hepp.
And the students are excited to continue to grow with the program.
"I would love to continue it throughout high school and see all of my friends, myself to improve on skills we need to improve on like vibrato, switching strings and a lot of things like that. It’s really nice seeing everyone getting so much better," explained Anvi.
Edwin explained his excitement, "I’m actually really excited. My brother, who’s a freshman in the high school, he couldn’t do orchestra, he had to do choir but then when we found out there’s going to be an orchestra next year when he’s a sophomore, he said he would love to join and that would make him really happy. It’s way too important not to have it. Having this orchestra can help express other kids what they feel and bring out their inner creativity."
Performing & Fine Arts NPS Fast Facts Middle School Orchestra Reading music requires processing of a symbolic language. Strong music readers are also strong text readers, particularly with non-fiction. Music is a language. Learning to "speak music" increases your vocabulary and communication skills. Playing music with other people releases endorphins -- chemicals in our brains that are nature's antidepressant. We just feel better when we play together.