What Makes Dover’s Music Program Great

Here at Dover, we have a wonderful music program that includes band, choir, and orchestra classes. These classes contain some of the brightest and most talented students at Dover, with students often participating in multiple music classes as well as additional sports. Among the Crimsonian staff are students in the band, choir, and orchestra programs. Here we have Tori Shankle, Katie Bruno, and Allie Hisle to tell you why Dover’s music program is so good.

Tori – Choir
The choir program at Dover is incredible. Ever since sixth grade, I’ve had the opportunity to be in choir and learn how to sing fun and interesting pieces with my friends. Sometimes we even sing in a foreign language which adds another layer of difficulty; some of the languages include Spanish, Hebrew, Swahili, Latin, Zulu, and French, just to name a few. The choirs have even been given the opportunity to travel! For example, during spring break of 2019, the whole music department was given the chance to travel to Orlando and spend a week in Florida. It was definitely a trip to remember, and I wouldn’t have been able to go if I wasn’t involved in choir. Also, the Ars Nova Singers will get the opportunity to go to Chicago in June of 2021 for a couple of days. There’s a bunch of fun things planned for that trip, and I can’t wait to go and have a wonderful time visiting a new city with friends! Choir really does have a lot of opportunities. You can meet new people and learn to sing together as a group. Choir may seem easy on the outside, but it’s actually a lot harder than it looks. When reading music, you are essentially reading a foreign language. There’s so much going on at once, and you are responsible for singing your part, in tune and in time with everyone else. Not to mention there are many other parts around you happening at the same time. You also have to learn to control your breathing to be able to sing long or short phrases. It can be a workout. I’ve told you a bit about choir in general, but what makes the Dover program great? Well, I’ve already mentioned some of the opportunities provided to the choir kids (traveling, meeting new people, working together as a team), but there are other reasons as well. When asked what makes the Dover music program special, Mrs. Hinkle, the choir director, responded with a simple answer. “The students,” she replied with a smile. “They’re amazing. They stretch themselves, and they’re not afraid to take a risk to make beautiful music.” And I couldn’t agree more. The students in choir (and the rest of the music programs) want to be able to create music that has meaning. And if that means we have to stretch ourselves a little in order to get there, we’re all for it. And when we all work as a team, there’s nothing we can’t do. Finally, I would just like to give a quick shout out to the instructors – Mr. Rutter, Mr. Carrick, Mr. Redd, and Mrs. Hinkle herself. These wonderful teachers are also a reason why Dover has such a strong music program. They always go above and beyond for us, and we really appreciate it. Without great teachers to lead us along the way, we would not be where we are today. Literally. Without the assistance of Mr. Rutter and Mr. Carrick, the choir could not practice as often due to new guidelines dealing with the ongoing pandemic. Because of their help, I can keep singing with the choir, and that makes me really, really happy.

Katie – Orchestra
The orchestra program has grown tremendously in the past few years. Mr. Rutter, the orchestra director, has impacted all of his students greatly. His humor and witty knowledge that he brings to class every day put a smile on everyone’s faces. A new addition to the orchestra last year was the chamber orchestra. Chamber orchestra is a smaller group of string musicians that want to play more challenging pieces. It is an outside-of-class group that meets once a week, and most of the work is to be done outside of class and practice. I joined the chamber orchestra late last year, so unfortunately, I have not performed just yet due to the circumstances. I am hopeful that this year, I will be able to experience that at some point.
The technique of a string musician takes many years to perfect. Articulation, dynamic, and intonation are just a few things that every string player has to keep in mind at all times. Articulation is the formation of clear and distinct sounds. This is mostly controlled by the bow. Articulation is something that Mr. Rutter calls “icing on the cake”. I wanted to conclude with a piece of advice that Mr. Rutter has been giving to us recently: “Brush your vegetables and eat your teeth”

Allie – Band
Dover High School has one of the best music programs I have ever encountered. I have been in Dover’s band since 5th grade and I am now a junior in high school (11th grade). When I tell you that joining Dover’s music program changed my life I absolutely mean it. Learning to play an instrument and read music helped shape me into a better person. According to UBC professor and the study’s lead investigator, Peter Gouzouasis, it is scientifically proven that “students who learned to play a musical instrument in elementary and continued playing in high school not only score significantly higher, but were about one academic year ahead of their non-music peers with regard to their English, mathematics and science skills, as measured by their exam grades, regardless of their socioeconomic background, ethnicity, prior learning in mathematics and English, and gender.” That all basically means that students who join a music program actually do better in school because of it. However, that doesn’t tell you why DOVER’S music program is so fantastic. I’m going to crack the code for you right now: it’s our directors. That’s right, Mr. Redd, Mr. Carrick, Mrs. Hinkle, and Mr. Rutter. These amazing people make me want to find whoever hires Dover’s teachers and give them a big fat smooch (socially distant air smooch I suppose). I truly believe Dover has acquired some of the most charismatic, kind, and productive teachers on the entire planet. My personal experience with the band directors, Mr. Redd and Mr. Carrick, is that they pour their hearts and souls into teaching, as well as truly caring about each individual student. I have been learning saxophone under Mr. Carrick and Mr. Redd for almost 7 years now, and I have seen the wonderful things they do for students. From writing letters of recommendation, to suggesting college music scholarships, to pushing students to try solos, our directors have always had their students’ best interests at heart. When you join Dover’s band in fifth grade you are taken under Mr. Carrick’s wing. Mr. Carrick taught me how to play the saxophone and his music class was the highlight of my day, every day, for 4 years. Once I made it to 9th grade I became a Marching Tornado (Which I didn’t realize held such a name here in Dover until I finally got to experience it). Mr. Redd became my music teacher and he showed me just how intricate and exciting music can truly be. One of the best things I have learned is the saying, “don’t practice until you get it right, practice until you can’t get it wrong.” I can confidently say my musical experience would NOT have been the same with different music teachers. I am extremely lucky to have been taught by teachers as passionate and fun as Mr. Redd and Mr. Carrick. Our directors encourage every student to do their best and have fun while doing it.