From Students

Love, Rita

  I am a member of a music group called the Youth Rock Orchestra. Their philosophies on music have made tremendous impact on my life. One of their sayings is “take it to 11” which means do everything to your full potential. My director always says “when in doubt, just rock out.” She means even if you don’t know what to do, just go with the flow. Rock Orchestra allows me to play with professional rock stars, like Mark Wood, and it shows me how to be a rock star myself all the time. It helps us see that we can do anything we want if we just set our minds to it. My mind set has changed for the better because of the Youth Rock Orchestra.
          The Youth Rock Orchestra has taught me how to use my full potential. I use it not only in music but in school and life as well. I now put more effort in my classes rather than sitting and twiddling my thumbs. As an artist of many talents I use this idea to help me be as outrageous as I truly am. My grades and over all enthusiasm has improved greatly due to this philosophy.
          At my first Rock Orchestra concert I was without music and I’m the only French horn player. I then started panicking because we were about to go on stage in less then five minutes. Mrs. Isbell, my director, came over to me and calmed me down. She said “when in doubt, just rock out.”  This means, if you don’t know what to do then try your best and don’t skip out on activities because you might miss something worthwhile if you do. So I went on stage and played my two songs by memory and totally rocked out. I use this philosophy for everything. Like on tests, if I don’t know an answer I at least take a guess. I use it for performing all the time. When I am not sure of a dance move or a riff, I still hit it with enthusiasm even if it’s wrong. Therefore the audience believes it was right. This philosophy is “hands down” my favorite.
          Rock Orchestra itself has changed my mindset. My outlook on life as enlightened by far. I look forward to doing more activities then I use to. I take myself to higher levels and I never give up. Rock orchestra’s philosophies have not only helped me improve my artistic ability but as a person all around. These new ideas have stretched my mind for the better and I am proud to never be the same. 

Essay for the Arkansas Governor's School
Rita R.

What ROCK Orchestra Means to Me

Ok, so this year made it my 4th year in ROCK Orchestra and I just thought I'd share what it means to me and how it's changed me. So... Here we go! I remember the first year (my freshman year), I was so nervous about it, about the music, about whether i would be good enough or not. I quickly got over that once we got in the dressing rooms and everyone was rushing around talking to people, getting ready, and helping each other out. I decided I'd give it a shot and try to make new friends, meet new people, and make a new family. Well, I did. And after I got done making new friends, we got on stage and it was time to rock out and show Little Rock and all of Arkansas what we were made of. I was always shy at rehearsal, but I let loose and had an AMAZING time! Once we started, I didn't want it to end, but just as fast as it started, it was over. I hugged all my new friends goodbye in hopes to see them again the next time Mark Wood and his band came to town. Fast forward 2 years to my Junior year in high school. I didn't have that nervous feeling like i had my freshman year because I was relatively familiar with the music and I had amazing new friends. I went all out on my Rockstar look and I got a lot of compliments and it helped me make new friends. Once again, we got on stage, rocked out, and it was over again... This year, my Senior year, was THE BEST year I've ever had in ROCK Orchestra. I got to see my old friends again, we played songs that I actually got into and I rocked out again.
Now, this is where I'm going to let everyone that I've made new friendships and a new family with know just how much you all mean to me and how you've made an impact on me and my life.
My freshman year I considered giving up and dropping out of orchestra because I became bored with it. But then Mrs. Isbell (love you to death! you're like my second mom!) came and talked to us about joining this thing she called "ROCK Orchestra with the Mark Wood Experience" and I thought, "huh... sounds interesting... might as well give it a try!" So, I did! And after that first year, my perspective on orchestra as a whole completely made a 360* and I actually enjoyed being in orchestra! I've never felt so connected with music and so... Engaged in orchestra, but now that i've seen what a violin can do, I'm amazed. I really am! I plan on staying in ROCK Orchestra as long as I possibly can! It motivates me to try as hard as I can, it allows me to become my family's own rockstar for a night, and it lets me express myself through music I actually hear on the radio and on my iPod.
I can't thank you enough for becoming my second family and changing my perspective on orchestra. I seriously can't. I've never felt so capable of doing something like this. I've never felt so embraced by a group of amazing people that are there for the same reason as me; to rock out, have a great time, and just have fun!
So, I'll say this again,
You all have become a part of me, my family, and my life and I can't thank you enough for giving me the best 4 years of my life and making that night of rocking out be so amazing!
Thanks for making me feel confident in my violin playing and giving me self-esteem and making me believe in myself!
Thank you for allowing me to share the spotlight with each and every one of you and giving me THE BEST night of my life! You all have amazing talent and it's been the greatest pleasure in sharing it with me!
I love you all!

The Moment

This is about my personal moment, the Fire 'N' Ice solo, but I think it applies to any memory.
Vivaldi Rocks is over. Your heart races because of the next song. Finally, after the applause, Mark begins to play the intro to your solo song. You jump up from the front row, making sure not to trip over anything. You walk up to the front of the stage. You put your bow on the string and begin to play your Fire 'N' Ice solo. You stand next to Mark and you rock out together. You feel slightly nervous, but once you play through a couple bars, you feel a little more confident. This is what you've been waiting for; what you've been spending all of your Friday afternoons preparing for; why you turned down friends' invitations to sleepovers, movies, and anything else resembling a "normal" teenage life, so you could practice. This moment. Right now. And it's worth it. You feel a rush of adrenaline, a burst of energy, You relax, rock out, whip your hair back and forth. You're in your own little world. You snap back into reality and look around. You see the guitarist walking towards you. You two rock out together, back-to-back. The rest of the song is a blur, and it's a shock to you when you discover that there are only a few measures left. The song is over. You breathe a sigh of excitement. The next "moment" couldn't come sooner.