top of page
Image by Weston MacKinnon

Journey by theNorth Star

2023 • Multilevel String Orchestra • 4'

This works as both a standalone piece and as an exciting way to invite older and younger players to perform together.


It is slated for premiere in fall 2023 and will then be available to other ensembles.

Here's the magic


North Star is carefully crafted to be an exciting multilevel piece that is musically rich and pedagogically sound. Built as a rondo (ABACADA), the primary North Star theme (adjacent to "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star") leads the ship across the sea. I designed this theme specifically with the youngest players in mind and made it crucial to the work, not a simplification of another idea. This theme is the guiding light which brings the ship to safe harbor. The theme is mostly the same, with modest changes, and can be supported by older players.

In contrasting sections, older students introduce new ideas—the ship sailing, stormy seas, and a sea monster. These themes are blended with each restatement of the North Star theme.

The thoughtful balance of the North Star theme and contrasting themes keeps the piece accessible to young players, offers interest and challenge for older players, and re-contextualizes a simple idea with a broader array of harmonies, colors, and rhythms.


Below is an excerpt from the score demonstrating how the advanced and elementary parts work together.


"North Star" works alone and as a side-by-side piece with the following orchestra combinations:

  1. Advanced Only

  2. Advanced + Intermediate

  3. Advanced + Intermediate + Elementary

  4. Intermediate Only

  5. Intermediate + Elementary

(These designations are generally aligned with most high school, junior high, and middle school programs.)


"North Star" is a fabulous end-of-year piece for a combined concert. It might also be performed by older students in the fall and played again at the spring concert with the younger students (a fantastic motivator!).


Young students will need to know:

  • The D major scale

  • Limited use of C♮ and F♮

  • Simple rhythms in 3/4 time

  • Playing pizzicato and arco (no changes within a single section; lots of time to pick up the bow between restatements of the theme)

Intermediate students will need to know the above plus:

  • Some use of the notes B♭, E♭, and A♭

  • Limited half-step chromaticism in a simple, repeated pattern

  • Shifting into 3rd position (upper strings)

  • Some 8th-note syncopation; some 16th notes

  • Legato, staccato, accent, tremolo

  • Playing grace notes and trills

Advanced students will need to know the above plus:

  • Shifting into higher positions (for Violin 1 and cello)

  • More complex rhythms including 16th notes


Practice tracks will also be made available here on my website for download. These can be used in class and practice so students learn how their part fits in with the whole work.

bottom of page