When Instrumental Director Mrs. Alix Baldwin first came to Oakcrest to teach in 2014, there were 23 people in orchestra class, with the top orchestra composed of just seven students. Today, more than 100 people participate in the school’s music programs, with 35 students in the top orchestra and a Harp Circle with more than 20 harpists.
“The program has just grown and grown and grown,” Mrs. Baldwin says. “The Harp Circle is probably the thing that I am most proud of because every school has an orchestra, but now we have a special program unique to Oakcrest that is here.”
Mrs. Baldwin’s own love for music began as a young girl when her mother would repeatedly play classical music on the radio and started her at a very young age with private flute lessons. She would go on to participate in band in local Fairfax County public schools where she was “fortunate to play with great instructors and ensembles,” she notes.
“Band was where I was happiest,” Mrs. Baldwin says.
Mrs. Baldwin earned a Bachelor of Arts in Music Composition from George Mason University and was named GMU’s Most Outstanding Musician of 1997. While studying at GMU, she sat as Principal Chair flute and Principal Chair harp in both Symphony Orchestra and Symphonic Band.
Following graduation, Mrs. Baldwin taught privately and played in various ensembles. She first heard of Oakcrest while judging District instrumental auditions and was struck by how working at the school sounded like “the best job ever.”
Considering how she plays a very large role filling the Oakcrest hallways with beautiful music, Mrs. Baldwin says that one of her favorite parts is getting to watch her students, “get so excited when they can play something that they’ve heard before.”
“There’s a lot of joy involved, and I get to share in that joy,” Mrs. Baldwin says.
In addition to instrumental concerts throughout the year, various orchestral ensembles play during various school functions, such as the Junior Ring Ceremony. “They get to be a part of the ceremonial life of the school,” Mrs. Baldwin explains, adding that students look forward to playing at the ceremony each year, and are grateful when it is their turn to participate in the ceremony. “I’ve even had alumnae come back to play at the Junior Ring Ceremony.”
This November, the Oakcrest Harp Circle will play a concert at the Virginia Music Educators State Conference. For many of the attendees, Mrs. Baldwin says, it may be their first time seeing a harp circle of young women, and their first time hearing about Oakcrest School.
“The girls are aware that this is a big deal,” Mrs. Baldwin says.
Mrs. Baldwin believes that forming a strong music program at Oakcrest is the fruit of the students’ hard work and diligence, in addition to the overwhelming support from their parents. “Overall, the culture here is that of cheerful, hard work and that is what a music program needs to be super successful,” she says. “What these girls are able to do even in a smaller school is extremely impressive. Music is a really enjoyable way for a girl to experience God - all of the beauty should direct to God. They love this music that hopefully gives them another way to consider the beauty of God.”