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Concert set at Dickinson Middle School; includes guitars and marimbas

Students practice with guitars at the Dickinson Middle School for midwinter concert.

Guitar and marimba melodies can excite spirit or soothe the soul. For the first year, eighth-graders at Dickinson Middle School have the option of learning how to play the instruments, taught by music specialist Laurae Dykema.

Forty-seven eighth-graders will showcase their  guitar skills, while another 12 will play the marimba during a mid-winter concert.  The concert, featuring the eighth-grade choirs and the instrument ensembles is at 7 p.m. Monday, March 12 at the school. The seventh and eighth grade bands will perform at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, March 13 at the school, under the direction of Director of Bands Les Dykema.

Referencing the  guitar lessons, Laurae Dykema said, “The response has been wonderful. The reason I started the guitar class is because we needed another option other than choir and band for students. I think it’s something they’ve always wanted to learn.”

The school provides 30 steel-string acoustic guitars, which are enough for two seperate classes of guitar lessons. The class is one credit, and rehearsals are twice a week.

“The skill level is challenging, but we’re not going too fast,” she said. “The literature is simple, from ‘Twinkle Little Star’ to a modern piece we’re playing, ‘Stand by me.’”

“We use the guitars we have at school, but some of the children do have guitars at home for practice. Sometimes they come in during home base or lunch time to practice.”

The school owns seven marimbas -- a percussion instrument--  and has borrowed another five from Dickinson State University.

“You can literally play anything, and when you put the harmonies and rhythms together, it makes the most interesting music,” she said.

The marimba students rehearse once a week, and it’s considered an extracurricular activity.

“They always show up and love playing,” she said. “At parent-teacher conference, they said their children love it, it’s something different”

When asked if her students might ever join Les’ band, she suggested the opposite -- that drummers could play with her guitar ensemble. She’d like to borrow a drummer or two from Les’ program -- maybe next fall, she said.

Everyone is welcome to attend the concerts.