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Orchestra: Still Going Strong

by Allison Rivas Figueroa, Jonathan Cabrera & Emily Chavez




If you hear music coming from Vena’s auditorium on a Tuesday, it’s probably the school’s orchestra students practicing their instruments.  Vena’s instrumental program is in its 19th year.  Next year, Vena will celebrate two decades of orchestra.   


Ms. Mitchell, the orchestra teacher, has been at Vena since the program began.  She started this instrumental program in the fall of 1997.  Ms. Mitchell says it’s unusual for a music teacher to stay at a school for so long.  “I’m glad to be at a school where the students really appreciate it,” says Ms. Mitchell. 


The orchestra is made up of fourth graders who audition to be in orchestra, and returning fifth graders.  Ms. Mitchell teaches flute, violin, trumpet, trombone, clarinet, and cello.  “It’s a unique program,” she says. 


This year, the advanced orchestra performed a Thanksgiving concert for the fourth graders on November 15.  All orchestra students will perform in this year’s spring concert.  Ms. Mitchell has decided to continue having two concerts per school year. 


According to Ms. Mitchell, the students are well behaved, and appreciative of the music lessons.  “They are amazingly focused,” states Ms. Mitchell.  “I feel really lucky to be doing this.”  According to fourth grader Giana Cervantes, “It feels good to be in orchestra because I can learn, and have fun in my learning.”


“I would love it if more students had access to orchestra,” says Ms. Richardson, Vena’s Problem Solving and Data Coordinator.  Right now, about 110 students participate in the program.  Flute players Isai Portillo and Andrew Espinoza say that they have been focusing more in class because of orchestra.  Portillo also says he will continue in orchestra next year because he wants to learn more about the flute in the future.


Ms. Mitchell started her music career when she was just 7 years old playing the violin.  Her parents and siblings all played an instrument.  Ms. Mitchell’s mom played the piano, her dad played the trumpet, her sister played the cello, and her brothers played the trombone and clarinet. 


Ms. Mitchell says, “I hope to stay for at least 5 more years.”  Once Ms. Mitchell leaves the school, she thinks Vena will continue the orchestra program.