Orchestra finishes ‘superior’ in UIL competition

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Megan Navarro

Orchestra Director Lindsey Titus instructs her students though a piece of music.

Megan Navarro

The Independence High School (IHS) Orchestra received first place from all UIL  judges at their competition; this is also called a “superior.” Sinfonia and Concert Orchestra all combined strings for UIL this year and had 33 people participate, which included two harps. In addition to receiving such a high score in UIL, the IHS Orchestra placed first, second, third at the WorldStrides virtual competition. 

Lindsey Titus is the Director of Orchestras at Independence. Titus has high expectations for each of her students; she is motivated by being with her students and seeing their love for music grow.

“I know what my students are capable of, so I don’t really accept anything less. If they are not reaching the level that I am expecting then we just teach it a different way until they understand it,” Titus said.

Titus is not only happy to see students love for music, but also enjoys being able to spend time with her students.

“A lot of the time students will refer to the program as a family and that is just the best,” Titus said.

Orchestra students are launched into an event called sight-reading from the beginning of the school year. Sight reading is a practice in which orchestra students play a piece of music without any prior knowledge of it. Often, Titus will find an entire piece of music that students have not read before and go through the steps that would be taken at evaluations.

“We do sight reading all throughout the year; we start to refine the UIL process as we get closer to the evaluation. Throughout the year we have as part of our warmups sight reading exercises,” she said.

During UIL the Varsity ensemble has 10 minutes to learn a piece of music. In the allotted time students are not allowed to perform any rhythms or pitches. To ensure preparation students shadow play their instruments to the music. Shadow playing is a practice in which students place their bows underneath their arm so they are rehearsing the motions with no sound.

“We spend the bulk of our time going through the music students then at the end of the 10 minutes we read the music straight down,” Titus said.

Practicing and preparing sight reading makes students more comfortable with the time constraints, rules, and format of the sight reading process during UIL. 

 “I love sight reading! It’s a pretty awesome skill to go from never having heard a piece before to all of a sudden being able to play it!” violinist Rachel Draper said.

Draper is a part of the varsity ensemble and has been playing the violin since sixth grade for seven  years. Being president of the orchestra has taught Draper that to be a good leader, you first need to be a good friend.  

“Oftentimes when people think about the president of something, they think that the person in that position does most of the work, and that’s just not true. The other officers and I all work hard together to support each other and make orchestra the best it can be,” she said.

Draper’s year as president has been much different than previous years, as the majority of students are virtual. Officers have been working hard to keep students engaged and unified through orchestras monthly virtual socials.

“As orchestra president, my main goal this year has been to make everyone feel as though we are a part of a family,” Drapers said.

Being orchestra president has enhanced Draper’s ability to take into consideration everyones opinions and respect others. Draper shows up everyday with the intention of making orchestra a place everyone wants to be. 

 “My favorite thing about orchestra is that I get to do what I love! It’s a really awesome feeling when the whole orchestra is supporting each other and playing to create music,” Draper said

Draper often plays the violin alone, but playing music with others and creating a piece together is rewarding. Draper learns challenging songs because they allow her to grow as a musician. Titus loves seeing students’ passion for music.

“We have a couple of students that are involved in orchestra and band and they continue to find other avenues and places to play their instruments and that is so awesome to see that love of music,” Titus said.