Remember instrumental ensemble?

You see our instrument cases in the hallway of B100. You hear the sweet melodies wafting into the courtyard. Yet whenever anyone talks about arts or electives, it’s as if we don’t exist; never existed. Poof.

The Instrumental Ensemble program at Marlborough is made up of 45 students in 15 chamber groups, and our hard work is made invisible. Instrumental Ensemble may not take up a class period, but it’s still an elective. In fact, it’s even more demanding than many electives are because we practice on top of a full load of courses. Instead, these practices happen during lunch or a free period or after school.

The main reason for Instrumental Ensemble’s lack of exposure is the fact that we get so little time to perform for the school. Instrumental Ensemble only gets one recital per year, but choir and dance get two. Our only other performances are two previews at ASMs, which are shared with two choirs. And we always play before they sing, so the audience spends our ASM performances waiting impatiently for the choir’s turn and not listening to us at all.

In addition, not everyone gets to play at the ASMs. Let’s do the math—half of two ASMs is… thirty minutes. We get thirty minutes per year to perform for the school. Ms. Sealove has to pick and choose which groups will play at an ASM, which means most Instrumental Ensemble groups only get to perform once per year at the end-of-year recital—a poorly-advertised event that no one except parents bothers to attend.

Why is it that the entire student body will gather to watch seventh graders sing for ten minutes during lunch, yet we play our two-hour recital to a half-filled auditorium? Classical music is varied and diverse, yet modern society is so quick to write it off as boring and antiquated. The consequences of this assumption show in how blatantly the Instrumental Ensemble program is overlooked here at Marlborough.

The hard work of 45 student musicians deserves much more recognition and appreciation than it’s getting now. We need to start attending the recital and giving Instrumental Ensemble students more opportunities to perform, and that will only happen if we start taking the program seriously. π

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