Jordan Gluck, who was in sixth grade at Dinkelmeyer Elementary School this past year, said she was a bit scared when she arrived at the New York State School Music Association Major Organization Evaluation Festival at Hofstra University on May 20. The senior chorus member said she thought the groups would perform in a smaller room.
Alexa Ferrara, a sixth-grader who performed with Saw Mill Road Elementary School’s band at the festival, said she was nervous that she would drop one of her drumsticks or a triangle. But Rebecca Gilberg, a Saw Mill fifth-grader in the band and choir, noted that once the groups began to perform together, the mood changed.
“When we got up on the risers, we were nervous,” she said. “Once we started singing, we had fun with it.”
Four North Bellmore student choruses and instrumental groups received bronze and silver medals at the prestigious festival this past academic year, which district officials said was a testament to the district’s growing musical program.
Faith Skelos, Dinkelmeyer’s principal and the administrative supervisor for arts education programs across the district, said many of the student performers took part in the NYSSMA festival for the first time this year, but received exceptional scores.
Dinkelmeyer’s senior chorus, comprising 75 fifth- and sixth-graders, was awarded a silver medal by NYSMMA judges. The Saw Mill Road sixth-grade band received a bronze medal. The school’s fifth- and sixth-grade vocal group, known as the Saw Mill Serenaders, earned a silver medal. And the North Bellmore School District’s sixth- grade orchestra received a silver medal.
Erin Lutz, a Park Avenue Elementary School sixth-grader who played viola in the district orchestra, said she had also performed as an individual at the NYSMMA festival in the past. Although this gave her an idea about what the festival judges would look for, she felt similar jitters that her peers did ––fears that were quelled once the performances began.
“I feel better performing in a group rather than playing alone,” she said. “People feel what you’re feeling.”