Stephen Czarkowski, a conductor and cellist, right, works with strings students at Henry E. Lackey High School during a recent music clinic.

LA PLATA, Md. – Strings students at Henry E. Lackey High School spent a recent afternoon honing their skills as musicians when guest conductors set up shop in Dr. Alan Freeman’s classroom.

“I love doing this … it’s my seventh or eighth time here,” said Stephen Czarkowski, a conductor and cellist. “This orchestra just gets better.”

Czarkowski, a conductor of the Frederick Regional Youth Orchestra, and others, was joined by YaShauna Swan, a coach with FRYO, and Nathan Wisniewski, a U.S. Air Force master sergeant and arranger for the Air Force Strings. The three were brought to Lackey by Freeman with the help of a Charles County Arts Alliance Arts in Education grant.

LaShauna Barbour, a Henry E. Lackey High School senior, left, and Sarah Strauss, a junior, participate in a recent strings clinic held at the school.

The orchestra is preparing for a festival in the spring and working on “Albinoni’s Adagio,” a popular piece arranged by Lauren Keiser. “We work extremely hard at mastering notes and rhythm before the clinicians arrive,” Freeman said. “But notes and rhythm aren’t enough. We also try to play expressively.”

While the music selections change year to year, the habits instilled in the musicians build and grow. “… Certain professional habits are reinforced over and over again,” Freeman said. “And a lot of kids are back every year.”