Spring Hill operates one of the largest elementary school orchestras in Virginia with well over 300 members in the third, fourth, fifth, and sixth grade. Instruction is free (it's part of the school's curriculum!), and is during the school day.
Any 3rd, 4th, 5th, or 6th grade child attending Spring Hill is eligible to join. Our musicians are divided into groups appropriate for their abilities:
- Students in Third Grade with no prior experience join Third Grade Strings in late January, and give at least two concerts in the Spring.
- Students in Fourth Grade join the Fourth Grade Orchestra. More advanced musicians can audition for the Advanced Fourth Grade Strings groups.
- In Fifth Grade, students who completed Fourth Grade Orchestra are automatically placed in the Advanced Orchestra, which is comprised of Fifth and Sixth Graders with at least one year of experience.
- Since most Sixth Graders have three years of experience, they're able to also audition for select groups: the Silver Strings, the Strolling Strings, the Chamber Orchestra, and the Liya Ensemble.
Students who start at Spring Hill in the Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Grades are welcome to join our Beginner Strings, which is an accelerated Beginner class which (with commitment!) enables those students to join their peers in December for the first concert, and thereafter till graduation.
What Students Learn
All students learn to read music, play with correct position and beautiful tone, and enjoy knowing that they produce an integral part of the whole. Without each orchestra musician, we wouldn't have our symphonic sound and brilliant reputation.
- Advanced Orchestra musicians perform at least five evening concerts.
- Silver Strings musicians perform a special piece at the evening concerts (at least three during the year).
- Strolling Strings musicians perform more concerts than any group, because they "stroll" to various grades and perform "before-school concerts" for all students.
- The Chamber Orchestra performs during evening concerts and is also invited to perform at public functions (dedications, weddings, school board meetings).
- The Liya Ensemble is the most elite group of all. It does all of the above and then some!
Each organization is notated on concert programs. Students in the select groups are chosen to go on orchestra field trips and are given many opportunities to shine, including performing in competitions!
Summer Strings is an Orchestra Camp which meets for seven days either in July or August. Mrs. Donahue sends the exact dates home in the autumn so you may plan ahead! Students learn a lot of new music, make new friends, and have dress-up days ("Messy Mondays," "Wacky Wednesdays," and "Freaky Fridays").
Newspaper reporters cover our string camp on one or more of those days, and we always get at least one article in the local papers. Summer Strings provides a boost in learning which helps our Orchestra musicians for the next school year, and Mrs. Donahue really enjoys teaching it.