West Point musicians showed off their musical skills in Briarcliff, and students got to join in:
Students in each of the three Briarcliff Manor schools were treated to beautiful performances by members of the West Point Brass Quintet, which donated its time, talent and expertise for three days of music workshops that were informal yet informative.
Staff Sgts. Rachel Hertzberg (tuba), Bill Owens (trumpet), Mikki Skinner (trumpet) and Curt Starr (trombone) and Master Sgt. Troy Messner (French horn) impressed students with renditions of Elmer Bernstein’s “The Magnificent Seven,” John Philip Sousa’s “Semper Fidelis,” Von Williams’ “English Folk Song Suite” and Manuel Penella’s “El Gato Montes.” The Briarcliff High School band, conducted by teacher Delia Montenegro, returned the favor by performing the Henry Fillmore composition “Americans We,” a piece that the West Point Band plays with frequency.
Owens discussed the importance of preparation and overall discipline before a big performance, demonstrating proper breathing techniques and warm-up exercises as well as precision and clarity during a performance. “Fifteen minutes of thoughtful, methodical practice is extremely important,” explained the trumpeter, who also took his turn conducting the group.
West Point Brass Quintet members engaged in an informative and thoughtful question-and-answer session with the students. Most said they began to train on their instruments as early as the fifth grade, and they urged students to pursue their creative passions as long as they can make a good living out of them.
“They received us well, were eager to learn, and were willing to accept the information we gave them,” said Hertzberg. “Briarcliff students have lots of potential. The kindergarten students even sent us thank-you cards – it’s heartwarming.”