Wire Choir, district’s pop music string ensemble, rocks on virtually


Wire Choir, district’s pop music string ensemble, rocks on virtually

March 31, 2021

When orchestra teacher Ms. Elissa Maynard launched the district’s pop music string ensemble, Wire Choir, it was intended as an extra dose of orchestra class for students who were a little more advanced and wanted to do a little more ensemble playing during the week. The group started modestly, 15 sixth grade students who took their lunches to the orchestra room and spent the period playing through pop songs arranged for strings.

“And then, I’d have students move on to seventh grade, but they wouldn’t want to leave Wire Choir,” said Ms. Maynard. “They’d ask me, ‘can I have the Wire Choir music, too,’ and I told them sure but that they’d have to practice on their own because the sixth and seventh grade schedules were so different.”

From its earliest days, interest in Wire Choir grew quickly, and so did attendance. In order to allow everyone who was interested the opportunity to participate, Ms. Maynard chose to move the group sessions to after school, although she did have some concern that the time change could throw off attendance.

“I had no choice but to change, and finally just moved Wire Choir to an after school thing and waited to see what happened,” said Ms. Maynard. “I worried I’d go back in on that first Thursday and find an empty room, thinking nobody was going to want to come.”

When she walked in, there were nearly one hundred kids in the room.

“I’ll never forget how good that felt,” she said. “That feeling of being overwhelmed with joy just looking at all these dedicated musicians.”

Word of the Wire Choir, and all of the fun they were having, had traveled through the student body in a hurry. So by the time Ms. Maynard made the move to after school, she had students coming to participate from every grade, including fifth, when it was added to the middle school. She also had many enthusiastic high school musicians showing up, which presented another great opportunity.

“When the high schoolers started coming down to play, I told them that they were actually helping me teach,” said Ms. Maynard about the more advanced players. “If a younger player got lost in the sheet music an older student would be there to show them where we were. They took on leadership roles — I even had them run sectionals — and the district worked it out for them to get community service hours.”

The high school musicians loved the mentoring roles, and helping the younger players develop their skills and sound. Ms. Maynard credits those interactions for fostering positive peer-to-peer connections between the different age groups, and for making Wire Choir feel like a family.

“I have college kids who still come back to play in the String Fling with us every year,” she said. “In fact, I have a Wire Choir alumnus right now who insisted that we needed a new website, and he’s now developing one for us, even a way for graduates to download the sheet music for String Fling!”

Ms. Maynard and the Wire Choir have been staying strong despite the challenges this past year has thrown at them. They have had to rehearse primarily online, and Ms. Maynard has been supplementing her weekly instruction with recorded video content that students can access any time to woodshed the repertoire. Wire Choir members continue to show their dedication to the pop string ensemble, logging on regularly with their trademark enthusiasm intact.

“That first Thursday, I guess I was wrong,” remembers Ms. Maynard with a chuckle. “Those kids have been coming out every week, even with everything that’s going on.”

Wire Choir is keeping its fingers crossed that they’ll have an opportunity to perform live for an audience at some point this year. Their back-up plan is to create a video that will be broadcast through the district website and social media channels.

Stay tuned to see what the Wire Choir has in store!


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