Hitting the perfect note: CHS’s music department


Abigail Lindsay

At the fall concert the orchestra, choir and band played the last song of the concert, all together. The students and staff who are apart of the music department work hard each day so that every piece in every concert sounds perfect.

The music department of Carlisle High School devotes countless hours of hard work into preparing for their performances, yet they often go unnoticed by the student body. Carlisle High School is home to an outstanding orchestra, choir, and band with students and staff dedicating themselves to become better with everything they do.  


The students of Carlisle High School’s orchestra spend countless hours practicing challenging songs in order to perfect them for performances.

Otto Kuehrmann, director of the orchestra, picks pieces that will challenge his students.  Kuehrmann pushes his students to play harder pieces, in order to make them improve.

“These kids work their butts off not only here in class but also at home, some practice for hours a day, and then they come in here and we put it all together as a group,” said Kuehrmann.

Students must ensure that they have perfected each song so that as a group each song will sound perfect.

For sophomore Danielle Fevola, who plays the upright bass, orchestra is a fairly stress-free class to her.  However, she does explain when a concert is approaching, the practice can become more intense.

“When it’s crunch time, we will run through our pieces a lot. The teacher will usually get very particular about the slightest things once we get the hang of it, so lots of patience and hard work is required,” Fevola said.

“We work so hard for months to perform one time in front of people but just to hear the applause or see them smile, it’s all worth it.””

— Rhiannon Witherow

While the songs they play are difficult, and hours are put into practicing all in preparation to play only a few minutes of music.  This is what junior violin player Rhiannon Witherow says is why she loves orchestra so much.

“We work so hard for months to perform one time in front of people but just to hear the applause or see them smile, it’s all worth it,” said Witherow.

The immense amount of enthusiasm and dedication that each student plays with, is what makes the Carlisle High School’s orchestra truly unique.


The voices of the Carlisle High School Choir are ones in which you can hear the passion behind everything they do.

Senior Joseph Durbin, who is in the CHS choir and played Sonny in this year’s musical, Grease, was not in choir his freshman year; however, he did audition for the musical.

“I did my [musical] audition and from the shadowy darkness of the auditorium, I heard Schade […] yell, ‘Why aren’t you in choir’,” Durbin said.

Then in his sophomore year, Durbin made room in his schedule and has been a part of choir ever since.

For junior Ashlynn Ashmore, this is her first year being a part of the choir. Ashmore decided that she wanted to join choir after deciding that she wanted to explore new hobbies.

“I love singing so I asked Schade if I could just join Bel Canto[…] but I wanted more singing in my day so I also joined concert choir and chamber,” said Ashmore.

The songs that the choir sings are challenging; thus countless hours are put into practicing.

“It’s a lot of practice, a lot of rehearsing the songs over and over again, getting them right in class,” Durbin said. “It’s our job to review outside of choir class to know our stuff and do it well.”

CHS’s choir works hard at what they do, in order to be able to perfectly hit every note they sing.


Following the retirement of Dave Roher in 2012, Byron Mikesell took the reins as CHS band director, beginning a new era of success for the program.

The Carlisle High School Band is made up of several different groups, one of the largest being concert band.

Reid Ellinger teaches concert band, as well as guitar and history of rock and roll, perspectives of music in pop culture, and piano class.  He sees the importance of working in each individual’s musical ability, in order to improve the overall band.

“Students refine their skills as musicians in many ways,” Ellinger said.  “We work on individual abilities as well as ensemble skills and techniques.  We focus a lot on intonation, pitch, dynamics, blend, and balance.”

In concert band, the attributions of underclassmen are essential, due to the fact that most upperclassmen are involved in more advanced courses, such as symphonic band.

“The introductory music programs in the Carlisle School District are very helpful,” Ellinger said. “The foundation of music really begins at our elementary schools and is a vital part of what we do.”

Junior David Curry is a part of the band and he describes the dedication that is necessary to be a part of the band.

“There’s no doubt that participating in the band is a time commitment.  In a given week, about 25 hours of my time is committed to the CHS band,” said Curry.

The music department is what truly brings the sound into Carlisle High School.  While the orchestra, choir, and band may only perform a few times each school year, the dedication they put into what they do is astonishing.       

This story was originally published in our Fall 2018 magazine.