Middle school musicians go ‘pro’

Greene Hills School hosted an Interactive Concert for Middle School Band Students in collaboration with the Bristol Brass and Wind Ensemble with Richard Theriault conducting. (Photo by Janelle Morelli)



The Bristol Brass and Wind Ensemble held an interactive concert and workshop, “Playing with the Pros,” for middle school band students, on Tuesday, Mar. 12, at Greene-Hills School.

Held in the Greene-Hills gymnasium, the event allowed students from Greene-Hills, West Bristol School, Chippens Hill Middle School, Northeast Middle School, Immanuel Lutheran parochial school, and John F. Kennedy Middle School in Southington to be dispersed among members of the ensemble.

After listening to and watching the ensemble play several songs from their upcoming concert, the combined group played the theme song from Disney’s “The Incredibles.”

Musical director of the ensemble, Richard Theriault, has been directing the BBWE for 10 years straight, but overall, has directed them for about 17 years. He previously served as the band director for Bristol Eastern High School, as well as the 102nd Army, National Guard concert band.

One of Theriault’s former BEHS students, trumpet player Robert Marsh Jr., said he began playing his instrument in the fifth grade.

“Band will give you so many opportunities,” said Marsh. “So, when your parents say, ‘Practice your instrument,’ don’t give them a dirty look, just practice. Have fun, enjoy it. Band will provide many opportunities, because I still play every Christmas and Easter, and I play with this guy right here, who is amazing.”

The idea behind “Playing with the Pros,” explained Theriault, was to show middle school students that playing an instru ment doesn’t have to end after school. He told those gathered that the ensemble is made up of approximately 70 members, all with different occupations including music teachers, professional musicians, lawyers, doctors, and even high school students.

“But guess what? They have one thing in common – they’re still playing their instrument, and they’re still making music with the brass and wind group,” said Theriault. “That’s what we want to get across to all of you this evening, that we want you to play, not only in your middle school, but to continue playing your instrument into high school, maybe into college, or maybe in 10 or 15 years when you get to be an adult you can play in a group like this.”

Throughout the workshop, Theriault directed the students to listen for different musical tools as the ensemble played several tunes.

Northeast Middle School sixth grader and trumpet player, Aidan Christopher, said he enjoyed participating because it meant he was “practicing hard,” and doing everything he “needed to do to play with the pros.”

His music teacher, Sharon Vocke, attended the workshop to cheer on Christopher, as well as her other participating students.

“I hope that they remember that music is a lifelong passion, and that all the work that they’re doing now, they can do for the rest of their lives,” said Vocke of her students.

To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Taylor Murchison-Gallagher, email her at TMurchison@BristolObserver.com.