Middle School Orchestra, Band Students Return to Making Music Together

After more than a year and a half of not playing in ensemble conditions, students in Bronxville Middle School’s band and orchestra programs are excited to get back to performing together. 


In band, eighth graders are working on two songs – “España Cañí,” a traditional Spanish theme that is easily recognizable, and “As Eagles Soar,” by American band composer James Swearingen. They’ve been working on balance and playing in an ensemble again, but also emphasizing the importance of being part of a team and working together. Seventh graders are working on “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago and “Star Wars” by John Williams, and sixth graders are working on developing fundamental playing skills and reading. 


“The students have been so understanding of the new safety guidelines, and their energy for playing is evident,” band director Uma Karkala said. “We are all excited to be back and bring the band back to the school and the community of Bronxville.” 


Colette Ungvary, an eighth grader who plays the saxophone, described her class as a “huge band family” that’s bonded over their love of music and happy to be playing together.


“It’s so cool being able to play an instrument,” said James O’Shaughnessy, an eighth grader who plays the French horn. “It’s an overall great time. It’s extremely rewarding once you get it done. You kind of just get to relax and reflect on how amazing the song was.” 


In orchestra, students have been working on their technique, ensemble skills, theory and rhythm. Under the guidance of orchestra director Wyeth Tvenge, they’ve been studying the classic works of Grieg, Holst and Pachelbel while examining pop music by Mancini, Queen and others. Students said they enjoy being a member of the orchestra as they get to perform in harmony together. 


“I really have learned a lot from the bow warmups. Even though I’m an experienced violin player, it was still really challenging, especially the final one,” seventh grader Kurtis Williams said. “The theory book is also good and helpful.”