The Honors Orchestra is comprised of orchestra students in 7th, 8th and 9th grade and band students in 8th and 9th grade. The Honors Orchestra is currently under the direction of Emily Pflaum, Cooper Orchestra director, and assisted by Jeanne Kauffmann.
Honors Orchestra started in the district in 1997 as a strings-only orchestra. In 2004 it became a full orchestra which means it includes string instruments, woodwinds, brass, and percussion instruments. Past directors include Shane Schmeichel, Emily Raymond, Brian Duffy, Sarah Chelgren, Mary James, Linda Bell, Lucas Shogren and Jeanne Kauffmann.
The auditions for Honors Orchestra happen in the spring each year and students receive notification within the last two weeks of the school year.
Rehearsals and Performances
Rehearsals begin around the 3rd week in September and are held at Cooper High School in the instrumental music classroom from 4-5:15 pm. The ensemble rehearses all year long and their season includes a winter concert with the All-District Orchestra, a spring concert with guest performances from the Middle School Best in Site recipients, a tour which includes performances at some of the district elementary and middle schools, and a recording session to finish the season.
Why offer special music groups?
After learning eighth, quarter, half and whole notes, second- and third-graders scored 100% higher than their peers who were taught fractions using traditional methods. (Neurological Research, 1999)
SAT scores for students who studied the arts more than four years were 59 points higher on verbal and 44 points higher on the math portion than students with no coursework or experience in the arts. (The College Board, Profile of SAT and Achievement Test Takers, 1995. Similar results appear in 2000, 2001 and 2002 reports.)