Orchestra appreciates their online Scary Music Party


Mahnoor Ahmad, Page Editor

In previous years, the annual Scary Music Party began in the afternoon with a decorating competition and lasted through the evening with a combined middle school and high school concert. Orchestra students would look forward to the fun of wearing costumes, decorating the BHS cafeteria, and playing the Halloween-themed pieces they practiced for months. 

This year, the orchestra took their talents online with a Zoom concert that took place on Oct. 29. Students were excited to decorate their Zoom area, wear themed costumes, and play spooky music. With that, the Orchestra was anxious to see how things would turn out online. 

Music Teacher Amber Petersen had been put in an extremely challenging setting as the new music instructor at Burroughs this year. With the help of Murray Middle School Orchestra Teacher Laura Olinger, Petersen was happy to see a positive reaction from students. 

“The Scary Music Party went even better than I had envisioned,” said Petersen.  “When I visited the breakout sessions, students were engaged, sharing music, and supporting each other’s learning…what could be better?”

Both middle and high school Orchestra students worked on two selections that are standard Scary Music Party repertoire: “Rosin Eating Zombies from Outer Space” and “Pirates of the Caribbean”. Another piece added was “Subatomic”. Viola Section Leader Owen Wong, a sophomore, was looking forward to playing both of these pieces. 

“If I could choose one, it would probably be “Rosin Eating Zombies” because it has a wide variety of techniques,” said Wong. With the glissando, pizzicato, the tremolos and even the real screams, this piece was a favorite for many students. 

Students had submitted their individual performances that were combined into a large virtual orchestra performance. They had also worked together in sectionals to determine a costume and decoration theme as well as an invitation.

The first violin section’s theme was college frat/sorority, second violins had a supernatural creature theme, violas were doing blackout/outer space, cellos had an undead athlete theme and the bass section’s theme was based on “The Nightmare Before Christmas.” Petersen was eager to see the creative ways students came up with to present their theme, whether it was an actual costume or a Zoom background.

“There were a few Zombies, Supernatural creatures, and a student with the viola Black-out turned outer-space theme that I thought were creative,” said Petersen. “Mostly, I was taken back by all of the beaming faces!” 

The students held mock sectionals where student leaders were practicing their mentoring skills. Cello section leader Lauren Rindt, a senior, made it a welcoming environment for the middle school students. 

I tried to break the ice and make it seem pretty laid back,” said Rindt. “The song I was teaching wasn’t too difficult and they said they weren’t having much trouble with it, so once we ran through it and worked on the rough spots a couple times we kinda joked around.”

Lastly, everyone got together in the main room and went over each piece together. Petersen saw 5 pages of students on her Zoom screen with their cameras on and enjoying the event. 

Even though the concert took place online, the separation allowed the orchestra to appreciate the time when they will get together and enjoy the music-making experience for the true gift it is.

“I am grateful to Ms. Olinger for her collaboration with me on this event and I look forward to more creative ways to bring joy and enrichment to all of our students,” said Petersen.