Dr Hagen said the number of children who attended was “spectacular”.
“I love conducting and teaching students. Any opportunity where I get to do that is great,” Dr Hagen said. “At any level there is always room for improvement in understanding how music works: especially phrasing and orchestration. Getting balance right is also a universal issue, even for professional orchestras.”
However, the nature and scale of the regional orchestral event enabled students to cultivate far more than musicianship. While Bryant and Matthew’s issues with speed and synchronicity taught them how to build on their talent and technique, it also brought up the importance of preparing before an event and showing commitment to playing their part. Matthew said he understood the significance of developing these skills during rehearsals with Dr Hagen.
“He has the ability to spot mistakes, even really small ones! I improved a lot under his guidance. After this experience I will look at Mr Morris during orchestra rehearsals,” Matthew said.
Dr Hagen said students need to know how to listen to a recording of the piece they’re playing and look at the full score to be able to see what other people are doing.
“This needs to be done before rehearsal,” Dr Hagen said.
Dr Hagen said he spent time teaching students how to count, including how to make entrances on their own and read gestures from the conductor. He also highlighted how learning music wasn’t just for music’s sake.
“We were doing a lot of counting in rehearsal and one person said: ‘is this a math’s lesson now?’ I said ‘yeah’; at one point, music might be a foreign language lesson when you look at the instructions a composer wrote to tell you how to play a piece of music. It could also be a history lesson when you study the context in which it was written,” Dr Hagen said.
Students picked up several soft skills too, including confidence, trust and teamwork — especially when they were confronted with playing a piece of music with students they didn’t know, Mr Morris said.
“As a musician you tend to be self-critical and self-reflective, conscious of every sound you’re producing, and suddenly you have to play with someone you’ve just met. It makes you feel vulnerable, because you’ve got to perform at concert volume with these people… But the value of all of that is learned through what’s achieved,” Mr Morris said.