February 27, 2014 | Vol. 117 -- No. 45

Westwood Middle School's sizzling strings

Cheney School District's orchestra program starts first year at middle schools after introduction in 2012-13 at elementary schools

It starts with a sizzle.

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John McCallum
Westwood viola player Hannah Goforth keeps her focus on instructor Liz Stringham during practice.

Ssst-sst-sssss, Ssst-sst-sssss, Ssst-sst-sssss, Ssst-sst-sssss.

It's a technique Westwood Middle School music instructor Liz Stringham uses to quiet her excited 18-student strings class and get them focused on the coming 40 minutes of practice. It establishes a beat, rhythm - initiating a call and response.

"There's no percussion in the ensemble so the beat can get lost," Stringham said. "I admit it's a little wishy-washy."

But it seems to work. The Westwood students emulate Stringham in perfect synchronization with violins, violas and cellos at the ready.

It's the...

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