The EHS Orchestra is Neglected

taken+by+Alyson+Zhang+22+%2F+The+EHS+Orchestra+room.

taken by Alyson Zhang ’22 / The EHS Orchestra room.

STELLA WONG ’25

Nothing less than excellence—the motto of our school district. 

Alluding to Edison High School (EHS) conforming to a standard of stellar performance, I question if this standard applies to the EHS orchestra; as a student who is a member of this performing arts group, it is vital for me to call attention to this considered judgment that has lingered not only in my mind for some time but in others likewise.

Albeit grateful that EHS has the provision for an orchestra, I am, however, not fond of how the school purportedly believes this standard of excellence and yet is content with their orchestra at a level of mediocrity. 

In particular, unlike the band and choir, the orchestra lacks a room that can fit the entirety of its members. The amount of space in the room is so compact that we frequently have to use other rooms like the choir room, media center, and small gym for rehearsal. 

Generally the orchestra utilizes the choir room for practice; the choir does not even require that much space in their room. The orchestra literally has instruments, such as the full-size bass, that stands six feet tall and two feet wide, whereas the choir does not!

Half of the students in the orchestra do not even have space to store their instruments, as the classroom does not render the capacity for this. A share of these fragile instruments is on the floor with tape to organize them, occupying up half of the room! And so contrasted to the other musical groups like the band, who possess their own closets, racks, shelves, cubbies, and lockers, the orchestra is disadvantaged. And with COVID-19, an individual notably does not want their belongings, like instrument cases, on top of others’ belongings. Students having a proper storage unit is not merely about convenience but about being cautious for one’s health. And yes, most of the high school students are vaccinated, but they still have a probability of contracting the virus themselves or transferring the virus to other individuals who are not vaccinated—for example, my younger brother who is currently unvaccinated. EHS, please do better with abiding by COVID-19 school guidelines! Lives are at stake here. 

The amount of space in the room is so compact that we frequently have to use other rooms like the choir room, media center, and small gym for rehearsal”

Furthermore, the orchestra struggles to reserve rooms for rehearsal. Each week, the orchestra teacher, Brittney Milicia, endures the hassling process of finding a vacancy for her approximately 80-student ensemble so that her students can have a professional and comfortable environment to rehearse collectively. And when we borrow rooms not intended for music rehearsals (media center, small gym), rehearsal set-up (setting up chairs and music stands) takes extra time. The school does not even have the number of stands necessary for the students in the orchestra. People in this ensemble have to constantly head to the band room to borrow stands. And take it from me as a student in the orchestra that this set-up and clean-up steals a lot of valuable time from me and others that could be spent rehearsing. On top of all this, we sometimes have our after-school rehearsals canceled. Take October 21, 2022, for example. Following school, the orchestra was to have their once-a-week full ensemble rehearsal but was unable to find a vacancy to rehearse in. The choir room was unavailable as some event was being hosted there; the media center was unavailable as the EHS ESPORTS Club was being hosted there; the auditorium was unavailable due to unknown reasons, and the band room was, as well, unavailable as there was marching band occurring. Mrs. Milicia was running from there to there to obtain an open vacancy to practice in, and could not. This debacle exemplifies the orchestra’s status at the bottom of the EHS totem pole. 

Nor is the lack of space in the orchestra classroom the only trouble, but this ensemble, too, does not have practice rooms—a soundproof room to rehearse within a controlled and self-contained environment—like the band and choir. Without practice rooms, orchestra students do not have the leisure to improve on their music skills independently, restraining them from what they could be fully accomplishing. With that, while the band and choir are seemingly up “there” having all these privileges, the orchestra is down “there” struggling and dealing with the unjust treatment they face from the school. 

In a nutshell, it is clear that the school has not attended with sufficient care to all these issues, making it clear that the orchestra faces unjustness; especially when juxtaposed to the other musical groups. And precisely, right now, at a time where inequality is such a timely issue, EHS should be particularly concerned about the issues of injustice occurring in the school. Essentially, inequality in the music department, not only tarnishes the school’s reputation but it furthermore incites those who are facing such treatment to feel frustrated or left out. 

Point is, the orchestra deserves better. This musical group is so much more than a program. It is where individuals come together to create enjoyment and experience for themselves and others. To move people through music in the ears and souls of individuals. If and only if EHS were concerned enough about their orchestra, students in this ensemble or about to join this ensemble would feel worthier, perform finer, and have a more commendatory image of this organization.

So please, EHS. Please find a solution to these troubles that the orchestra faces so the group can excell. 

After all…nothing less than excellence.