150 students compete in Orchestra Nova Music Bee


On May 22, 30 teams of students from San Diego County elementary schools came together for Orchestra Nova’s fourth annual Music Bee, a competition testing their musical knowledge and marking the end of the academic year of the Hunter Family Music Memory Program. The Birch North Park Theatre was filled with family members, teachers and classmates cheering on 150 student participants. The event was open to the public and underwritten by the orchestra and its generous corporate sponsors, Hunter Industries and San Diego Gas & Electric, as well as individual donors who are committed to music education.

The Hunter Family Music Memory Program in San Diego is named for long-time supporters of Orchestra Nova’s music education programs and based on the nationally-recognized Music Memory curriculum, which provides children in the third through sixth grades the opportunity to learn 16 pieces of classical music each year through interactive and innovative teaching materials. When a student completes four years of the program, he or she is able to identify and appreciate 64 pieces of classical music. At the end of each school year, students gather together to participate in a Music Bee, a “name that tune” team competition.

This year, over 5,000 students from 26 schools in the county have been participating in the Music Memory program, and of those, 17 schools sent a total of 30 teams of five students each to compete in the Music Bee. Orchestra Nova, the only orchestra on the West Coast to perform live at a Music Bee competition, played portions (just three or four measures) of the music that students learned throughout the year, followed by two minutes of the team members working together to correctly identify the composer and the piece. As scores were tallied, Orchestra Nova, conducted by associate conductor Dana Zimbric, performed a mini-concert for the students, including a few full pieces from the curriculum.

“[Students] are so thrilled to…participate in the Music Bee at the end of the year. To hear the music they now know well played live right in front of them, when they have only heard it on recordings, is so exciting for them,” said Tom Waczek, a music teacher from Whitman Elementary School, whose classes have been participating for four years. One student from E.B. Scripps Elementary School even commented, “Hey, that sounds just like the music on the CD!”

Teams had the possibility of earning up to a total of 100 points and all participating teams receive ribbons: Gold for 90-100 points, Silver for 80-90 points and Bronze for 60-70 points. A list of teams who earned Gold ribbons is below (an * denotes a perfect score).

3rd and 4th Grades 5th and 6th Grades

Cambridge School Cambridge School

Whitman Elementary Ocean Air School

Crown Point Elementary Sycamore Ridge School

Diegueno Country School Whitman Elementary

Ocean Air School

Sycamore Ridge School

Torrey Pines Elementary

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