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Home-schoolers gain skills, friends in string orchestra

By: Amanda Karioth Thompson, COCA | December 27, 2017

Floridians can commiserate with composer Leroy Anderson. Seeking relief from a stubborn July heatwave, he wrote “Sleigh Ride,” an iconic holiday classic. Seventy years later, it’s still a perennial favorite and a new generation of musicians is making it their own. The Tallahassee Homeschool String Orchestra performed the much-loved song and many others for a full audience in a recent concert.

More than 100 children make up the entirety of this group, which is broken into five smaller ensembles. From the tiniest Poco Players to the advanced Arioso group, each child receives professional music instruction in violin, viola, or cello. Abigail Silver is grateful for the opportunity to learn and grow as an artist. The 14-year-old violinist is a member of the Arioso group but said, “when this orchestra started, I had barely even played violin.”

All students are taught basic scales and other fundamental techniques by THSO’s instructors, but one of the most important lessons is how to play alongside others.

“This has taught me especially how to work as a group because you could be an amazing violinist, but if you’ve never played with an orchestra, it’s a totally different feel,” Abigail said.” You have to learn. These are the sort of traits that will help me in whatever I do but especially in music.”

Joanna Pepple, co-founder and director of THSO, focuses on the personal and musical development of her students. When THSO began offering programmingfour years ago, the goal was to provide ensemble experience to students of varying playing levels. Along with that, these emerging artists gain self-discipline and time-management skills, as well as a sense of belonging.

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