Student music ensembles pilot the Harmony Bridge Project

Minah Kim, Senior News Editor

Music makes us alive.  With this philosophy as its inspiration, professional quintet Dallas Brass is piloting a music program with several high schools across the country.  After having toured high school around the nation last year, Dallas Brass chose Schreiber as one of eleven schools to jumpstart the Harmony Bridge Project, a program that encourages music ensemble performances in nursing homes.

“The fact that we were selected speaks very highly of the connection that we have and that we are nurturing with Dallas Brass,” said concert band director of Dallas Brass Mr. Mark Brenner.

When Dallas Brass visited Schreiber last year for a workshop with band students, the members expressed an interest in bringing music to nursing homes.  They followed through with this vision in these past few months.

The founder and director of Dallas Brass Michael Levine hired an arranger to compile ensemble music for students.  Literature includes “America the Beautiful” and “Camptown Races.”  All the songs in this first booklet of music are patriotic sing-along songs that the nursing home residents would recognize.

The music is arranged in five voices with percussion meaning six musicians are needed for a full ensemble to place the music.  However a variety of instruments can play each voice, so that the ensembles are not limited to specific instrumentation.

“The hope is that by starting this program and providing feedback, Dallas Brass can expand this program,” said Mr. Brenner.

Mr. Brenner introduced this idea to his students by showing a video of an untalkative, depressed elderly man who immediately smiled and gained energy upon hearing music from his childhood.

“The video was really interesting.  You could see the man’s eyes light up as he put on the headphones and heard the music.  He never talked or made eye contact with people, but as soon as he heard the music, he started singing along and truly looked happy,” said senior Eleanor Kim.  “I’m excited to be a part of that myself.”

Starting in late April, students began to practice the music in their sectional groups and every student was given the opportunity to partake in the nursing home visit.  Sign up sheets were available for students to form their own quintets.

“My friends and I formed an ensemble.  I think it’s a cool idea because it’s a way to give us more opportunities to perform as well as give back to the community,” said junior Leo Potters.

At the nursing home, teachers will film the student performances and interview residents and students. Dallas Brass will  use these recordings to improve and promote their program to other schools.

“We are looking to continue this project.  The hope is that students take ownership of this.  Student can form their own ensembles and perform at nursing homes on their own,” said Mr. Brenner.