Maggie Walker Music Makes Waves

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Maggie Walker Music Makes Waves

Photo: Howcast on Youtube

Photo: Howcast on Youtube

Photo: Howcast on Youtube

Photo: Howcast on Youtube

Malina Gavris, Features Editor

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On a chilly day in December, the entire student body was exposed to the wonderful musical talents of our peers at the Winter Concert. We witnessed vibrant voices, splendid symphonies, and an elegant execution of classic pieces. On top of this festive occasion, this school year has been a very exciting one for the music department and there are many more events that warrant attention!

Firstly, with the start of the year came a new wave of talented teachers to fill in some positions. Mr. Merillat is the new jazz band teacher who arrived at Maggie Walker amidst great recommendations. He explains that his goal as a music teacher is “to provide a musical environment that challenges gifted students to achieve superior levels of musical performance”.  Two other experienced educators that have joined the Dragon team are Mrs. Sienkiewicz for orchestra and Mrs. Graham for chorus. Emma Chun (‘20), who is taking orchestra and plays the violin, explains that “she’s teaching us how to sight sing, which is really fun!”

With great support from their music teachers and gifted with excellent musical abilities, some of our top notch jazz students got to perform at VCU Jazz Day! On January 26th, sophomores Varun Mandgi (‘21), Delaney Cotton (‘21), and Keriann Slayton (‘21) were able to play alongside renowned musicians and write their own jazz compositions at the Virginia Commonwealth University. Delving into more detail about the day, Mandgi articulates that “VCU Jazz day was a program that contacted us through our band director, Mr. Merillat. It took the top players from several high schools across VA, and we just had a fun day of music. We had a few hour long teaching sessions, some of them instrument specific while others more general, and we also prepared a short selection of pieces with a combo group.” Everyone who participated could not seem more pleased about their experience, despite all of the hard work. Cotton (‘21) was still enamoured by the event when she stated, “It was awesome! We worked in small groups with VCU musicians to learn more about improvisation, and […] we also heard great performances from VCU faculty and students.”

Furthermoe, just last week four of our classmates played for District Band at Deep Run High School. Grace May (‘20), Kevin Ren (‘20), Ryan Eklund (‘22), and Rahul Ramesh (‘22) all performed under the Director for Bands for VCU and the former director of Bluestone High. Dazzling the judges with their skills, Rahul and Kevin placed first chair and have been accepted to audition for All-Virginia Band. All of these young musicians were able to make their mark with their performances.  

Another thing that makes the musical classes at Maggie Walker so wonderful are the people we share the music with. It takes hard work and practice to play an instrument and many friendships have been formed by sitting in the chairs, chatting, and learning the melodies. When asked about her favorite part of jazz band, Slayton (‘21) illustrates that “I started playing saxophone in middle school and I wanted to continue in high school, this year has been really fun with Mr. Merillat and we have a great time in class. The trip to New Orleans last year has probably been the highlight of band so far; it was awesome to see a new city and spend time with my friends!”  It’s splendid to see so many incredible bonds forming among our students and with our teachers and even more so incredible to know that it’s all due to the wonderful power of music.

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