Music benefits students
Here at Yuba City High School, music plays a large part in daily life. When asked to name three musical artists at random, Brandon Taylor, a junior, said, "Lil Wayne, Drake and Led Zeppelin," but when asked to name three composers, he stuttered with his answer: "Uh, Beethoven! ... Mozzarella — oh, wait, Mozart!"
I got an altogether different response when I asked senior Ria Sager the same question: "Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and Gershwin," she said. She took some time listing that last one, but said she wanted to pick one that she'd recently played and enjoyed.
Ria is a violinist in the YCHS Orchestra and has played her instrument nearly 10 years. "It's for me, not anyone else. It's a way to better myself for my own reasons, without seeking the approval of others," she said. Ria has devoted years of her life to her music and plans to stick with it through college.
Often overlooked — and even forgotten in last year's school yearbook — the YCHS Orchestra includes 36 students and is conducted by 11-year YCHS veteran Corey Kersting.
"I like seeing the pride within the individual student, which stems personal improvement," Kersting said. "In music, the focus is on the whole ensemble rather than just on one star student. I like that every student is a part of the whole group, they grow together and learn to rely on each other," he added.
"Over the four years that a student is involved, I see growth and maturity. From freshman to senior, a student learns leadership. They go from being just a member of a section to being a section leader, as most of our seniors are now," Kersting said.
"Numerous orchestra and music students are currently and have been involved with ASB (Associated Student Body), and I think I've had six orchestra students be ASB presidents," he said.
"With concerts and events outside of school, the student learns life skills including responsibility and time management; they gain confidence and self-esteem," Kersting said.
But the benefits extend far beyond just the students. "Be it orchestra, band or choir, all parts of our music program represent the school, and we all strive for excellence to represent to the best of our ability. The band performs at sporting events, and the orchestra performs at events like graduation, academic awards and open house. Without these groups performing, I feel there would be a whole lot missing," he said.
"Music programs — like sports or any student group on campus — have highs and lows. I've seen both upswings and downswings in student participation and in quality of performance. We do seem to be on an upswing right now, and I'd like to see it increase; I think it will.
"In the future, I'd like to see the program more recognizable, more visible. I want the community to know that we have great programs. That's very special, not many school districts can say that anymore. Our school and community should be very proud of these programs," Kersting smiled.
The YCHS Orchestra has a voice. As a member of the Yuba City Unified School District's orchestra program for the last 10 years, I've heard that voice. This voice — a beautiful, resounding voice — simply asks for an ear to listen, to appreciate and to enjoy all the lovely music it has to offer.
Greg Geraldo is a senior at Yuba City High School. This is his final column for the Education section.