Arts Education


Photo of student playing the violinABOUT THE ORCHESTRA PROGRAM

The Cumberland County Orchestra Program provides challenging instruction for approximately 2,000 county string orchestra students.  The CCS Orchestra program remains one of the largest and strongest programs in the state, providing students with the opportunity to express creativity and increase confidence through learning to play an orchestra instrument.  In addition to challenging instruction in violin, viola, cello and bass, the orchestra program offers a variety of supplemental experiences to enhance the orchestra classroom.  Students may start orchestra in the 5th or 6th grade and continue with orchestra through the 12th grade.  Outside of the classroom, we offer the Cumberland County Youth Orchestra, the Middle School Youth Orchestra, All County High School Orchestra, as well as our Annual Spring Orchestra Festival for students to further their experiences in a variety of orchestras at different levels of their playing ability.  Regional orchestras such as Junior Eastern Regional, Eastern Regional, Honors Orchestra, and Solo and Ensemble are also available for students.  Students who join the orchestra in CCS will learn teamwork, discipline, self-confidence, concentration and experience personal achievement and appreciation for the arts if they participate in this magical journey of learning to play a stringed instrument.


Initially as a vision of Dr. Jack Britt, Superintendent, Tryon Lancaster, Arts Education Supervisor, and the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County, the CCS orchestra program was started in 1980 by pioneer orchestra teacher, Mildred Watson with CETA funding by our local Arts Council.  Mrs. Watson and her handful of students began a program that was later established and expanded by founders, Ken and Susan Ellington. Only a few schools were served in the beginning with a plan to provide orchestra instruction in all schools in grades 5-12.  It has matured to include all elementary, middle, and high schools in the county serving over 2000 students with an orchestra teaching faculty of 22 led an Orchestra Lead Teacher.  These visionaries saw the unique opportunity an orchestra program would offer students and the community by providing instruction during the school day on violin, viola, cello, and bass.  Important in the development of the new program, county-wide orchestras were organized to give students additional experiences outside of their classroom.  In addition, the development of the Cumberland County Youth Orchestra which included the top string and band students in the county, offered an opportunity for students to be a part of the full orchestra experience in addition to string orchestra in the classroom.  The Middle School Youth Orchestra was later developed for younger students as a stepping stone for the Cumberland County Youth Orchestra. The All County High School Orchestra, a rigorous two day clinic with a guest conductor, was later added to provide students with an experience much like the regional orchestras such as the Eastern Regional Orchestra and Honors Orchestra Clinics.  The Annual Spring Orchestra Festival has provided an annual  showcase of the orchestra program as a highlight in a sequential performance including grades 5-12 in the spring.  With the help and support from the CCS administration and many dedicated parent volunteers, CCS offers a wide range of opportunities, on many levels, for students who wish to study a stringed instrument to excel and become part of something that will last a lifetime.   Today, as new schools are built, the program continues to grow.

Published by Vicki Quinn on November 21, 2016

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