On November 12, From the Top visited the G.W. Carver Academy in Waco, TX with performers Nathaniel Smith, 15, cello, Mia Orosco, 16, fiddle, and Simon Stipp, guitar. The 50 middle school students were engaged from the moment the musicians walked in to the classroom, pressing them with television theme song requests and questions about their instruments.
The students were fascinated by Nathaniel’s impressive instrument line-up: he brought three different cellos to the school! Nathaniel started off with Popper’s Serenade on his “classical cello”, then followed that with a demonstration of his “road cello,” and finally his snazzy black, carbon fiber cello which he connected to an amp and played like a guitar.
Along with his assorted cellos, Nathaniel also demonstrated the many different styles of music he loves to play, including classical, bluegrass and jazz, by playing variations of the tune “Happy Birthday.”
After this, Simon joined in on guitar, and they played a few animated bluegrass tunes. The students quickly joined in clapping a steady beat, agreeing that the music definitely makes you want to move!
Mia was next, talking about how she loves both classical violin and fiddle. She played a couple of her favorite fiddle pieces with Simon and demonstrated the differences between the bowing used in classical and fiddle music.
Nathaniel, Mia and Simon had fun answering all of the questions and were able to improvise quite a few of the tunes the students suggested, including the theme from The Simpsons.
At the end of the session, Nathaniel, Mia, and Simon joined forces to perform the exciting finale they had played on the From the Top radio taping the day before, “Sally Goodin.” When the students asked for more, the trio started improvising on “Sweet Georgia Brown”–a perfect end to our school visit! (Check out Nathaniel and Simon improvising on this very tune in our behind-the-scenes video footage!)
After the final applause, there was a rush by the students towards the performers to get a closer look at their instruments and ask some final questions. Mia, Nathaniel and Simon each had a cluster of curious students surrounding them- it was so much fun, no one wanted to leave!
Later Mia commented, “I had a fun time at the school. I loved how all the kids had smiles on their faces the whole time! Also, I thought that it was very neat that, in addition to asking us questions about music in general, they also asked about our experiences and were interested to know how we got to where we were in our music.”