The orchestra’s semi-annual trip to New York City forges bonds between students


The FHC orchestra practices for a concert in the orchestra room

In eighth grade, senior Abby Cumings went on a trip to Chicago with the entire music department. Now in her senior year, she has a chance to do something similar, but this time, it will be with an even smaller group of people.

“I remember eighth grade was a really fun year because our class grew really close over that year,” Abby said. “We went on our Chicago trip that year. It was really cool, and I think that it really help to bond our class.”

The orchestra’s trip to New York City is meant to be more of a bonding experience for the students than it is an opportunity to play their instruments. They go to NYC just to have fun and pretty much do anything except perform, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t still musically oriented. Abby said that one of the many parts of the trip she is most excited about is going to see two broadway shows: Beetlejuice and Music Man. 

One of Abby’s favorite things about orchestra is how tightly knit the group has become in the six years they have been playing together. Abby even mentioned that one of the main reasons that she wants to go on the trip is because of the people who would be going with her.

“It will be fun just to go with friends and grow closer with them,” Abby said. “I think it definitely will be [a bonding experience]. Not everyone in the orchestra can go, unfortunately, but I have a lot of my friends in orchestra who are going, so I think it’ll be good for us to have a different experience than just playing together.”

While the orchestra usually goes on a trip to New York City every two years, the last one was scheduled for 2020 and was canceled due to COVID. This means Abby should have gone both her sophomore year and this one, her opportunities were limited to only her senior year.

For Abby, this has only added to her excitement about going. She said that since she missed the trip her sophomore year, she didn’t hesitate to sign up for this one. 

However, senior Sammy Yin had a much different experience.

It allows [the students] to grow in a way that they don’t get to grow in the course of a normal school year.

— Andrew Pool

“Originally, I wasn’t planning on going,” Sammy said. “I just wasn’t sure [I wanted to go], and it was a lot of school work that I would have to make up, but some of my friends were like ‘you should go,’ and I thought about it more, and I decided that it would be a really cool experience to have. Now, I’m really excited about it. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Along with Abby, Sammy has also been in the orchestra for six years. He joined in sixth grade after choosing to play the viola during “instrument fittings” in fifth grade. 

Since then, he has been participating in one of his favorite parts of orchestra: the Spring String Fling. It happens once a year, in the spring, and all of the grade levels—sixth grade, middle school, and high school—play their songs together. 

Due to his being in the orchestra for so long, Sammy has had the opportunity to see the event from every possible level. 

“[The Spring String Fling] is so fun every year,” Sammy said. “You get to see all the grade levels together in a combined concert. It’s great to see all the grade levels coming together. I’ve been doing it since sixth grade, and it’s really interesting to see it as a sixth grader and then I’m going to be performing as a twelfth grader this year.” 

While Sammy thinks that The Spring String Fling is a fantastic way for players in different grades to get to know each other and bond, he isn’t expecting to grow much closer with his current orchestra class from their trip to New York together. Sammy said that because they are already such a close-knit group, he doesn’t know how much of an effect the trip will have on their relationships with each other as a whole. 

The orchestra director Andrew Pool, however, may have a better idea of how much bonding the students will get out of the trip. Pool has been taking his students on this very same trip for twenty years, and he has seen how much of an effect it really has. 

“I think [the trip] is absolutely a bonding experience,” Pool said. “It allows [the students] to grow in a way that they don’t get to grow in the course of a normal school year, especially after not being able to go on the trip two years ago because of COVID. I think it’s important for them to have that chance to spread their wings like that.”

Even after twenty years of trips to New York with numerous classes, Pool is continually enthusiastic about spending time with his students away from the orchestra room. Not only does the trip provide an opportunity for the students to grow closer together, but it also gives Pool a chance to learn more about what his students are like when they’re not at school. 

“I always enjoy spending time away from school with my students,” Pool said. “I get to know them on a more personal level than being in the classroom allows, and I always appreciate watching their interactions as they grow as human beings.”