Weekly Feature



2010-05-06 / Sports

Young composer

Clinton Elementary student composes piece for spring orchestra concert
by SAMANTHA ROBINSON Reporter
A manda Witherell

Clinton Elementary orchestra director Yvonne Verplanke works with fifth-grader Amanda Witherell, who composed a song that will be played at the upcoming spring concert. Clinton Elementary orchestra director Yvonne Verplanke works with fifth-grader Amanda Witherell, who composed a song that will be played at the upcoming spring concert. may seem

like your average

fifth- grader.

She takes dance lessons, enjoys listening to pop music, and her favorite subject in school is science.

But what you may not know is that Amanda has an extraordinary musical talent. Last year, Amanda composed a full-length piece of orchestral music, which she titled “The Cat Song.”

When asked why she chose that title, Amanda responded, “I love cats. I have two cats, Misty and Cody.”

According to her mother, Paula Witherell, she did it all in one day, too.

Witherell said that on the day of Amanda’s spring concert last year, she kept her home from school, the only time that year, because she was sick.

Fifth-grader Amanda Witherell practices a song on her violin at Clinton Elementary School. Photos by John Smerecak. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Fifth-grader Amanda Witherell practices a song on her violin at Clinton Elementary School. Photos by John Smerecak. Purchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com By the end of the day, she had composed the piece.

“She comes from a long line of musicians. It runs in the family,” said Witherell, who played the flute for a number of years.

Amanda started playing violin last year when she was in fourth grade, and before that, taught herself how to play the keyboard.

If she learns a song on the violin, it’s not uncommon for her to figure out how to play it on the keyboard as well.

“She’s come a long way in a short period of time. I’m proud of her,” said Witherell.

Clinton Elementary orchestra director Yvonne Verplanke was also impressed by Amanda’s accomplishment and agreed to have the orchestra play it at this year’s spring concert, which will be held on May 13.

“She’s a bright student and does very well,” said Verplanke, who worked on the piece with Amanda after school in order to adapt it to other orchestra instruments.

Verplanke thought “The Cat Song” was an appropriate title for the piece, since it “jumps around a bit.”

She said the song starts out with the cellos and bass playing by themselves, with the other string instruments gradually joining in.

Parts of the piece also require pizzicato, or plucking, of the strings.

“The Cat Song” also incorporates a change in meter, with all the instruments ending in unison.

“Why shouldn’t we perform it?” said Verplanke.

According to Verplanke, no other student at this level has ever come to her with a complete piece of performable music.

The other students in the orchestra have also responded positively to playing

‘‘“The Cat Song.”

“They realize it’s got some worth and value in it,” said Verplanke.

Amanda will also be performing a solo during the concert, titled “Stringing Along with the Blues.” ‘‘ The orchestra will perform four other pieces.

Amanda says she enjoys playing all types of music and wants to continue with both the violin and keyboard in the future, a decision her mother is quite happy about.

“Music is a huge part of her life,” said Witherell.

A few days ago, Amanda finished her second composition, which she had been working on for a few weeks.

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