Tatum Roberston Introduces Kids to Opera

“…being an arts leader means teaching some of what you have learned as an arts student, so that the passion for learning about the arts is ignited and to show that education in the arts has a reason to continue.”

After appearing on our now-famous Boston blizzard taping this past February, soprano and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Tatum Robertson, 17, shared her passion for opera with kids in her hometown of New Orleans, LA. Read about her experience below:

Why did you choose this project?

For my outreach project I decided to teach solfege, and to show how the lyrics to opera are very similar to the lyrics of many popular songs. I presented my outreach project to the kids of Camp Impact, which is my church’s summer camp…because I wanted to introduce opera and aspects of classical music to children who never had the opportunity to learn about this.

What did you include in your presentation?

I presented my project in two 10-minute segments. The first segment, I introduced myself as Slide5a classical vocalist, and that I would be teaching them solfege. I taught them that solfege is used to help musicians sight read and that sight-reading helps musicians to be able to pick up any piece of music and play it rather quickly. Next, I went through the solfege syllables with them as they repeated after me. Then I showed them the hand signs that corresponded with the solfege syllables. To finish off the first segment we sung a  “D “major scale together.

Kids

For the second segment of the presentation, I talked to the older children of the group. I began that segment of my presentation by asking them what type of music they listened to, and what the music they listened to was about. They gave responses like gospel, R & B, Hip-Hop, and Pop.

I explained to them that I would be showing them a favorite Italian opera song called “Libiamo” from an opera called La Traviata. After showing them a video of Anna Netreko singing “Libiamo” I showed them the English translation to “Libiamo”. I then explained to the children that classical music talks about all the same things as the music they listen to – that opera has love songs and party songs.  And since some of them mentioned they liked Rihanna I told them that “Libiamo” is a party song like the party songs Rihanna makes. Lastly, I told them that now they can enjoy opera the way they enjoy their favorite music, and that all they have to do is look up the translation of the opera song they want to listen to

as they watch or listen to the song. To close the presentation, I asked if any of them had questions, and they asked to see a video of me singing. I showed them a video, but they wanted more and asked me to sing “in person”. Before I sang, “Give me Jesus,” I told them that there are songs about Jesus in classical music as well.

What impact do you think this had on the students? Tatum

After I finished my presentation the kids all returned to their classes separated by age. I was happy to hear the children excitedly departing trying to sing opera. As the parents started to come in to pick up the children many of the children kept pointing at me saying “Mommy she taught us opera today!” Also, the next day one of the teachers at the camp was teaching the children a gospel song, and the kids asked her if she could teach them opera. I was very pleased with the children’s responses and reception to my presentation as I got them excited to learn more about classical music -opera in particular.

What did you learn from this experience?

Through my presentation, I learned that children are extremely impressionable and that when you enthusiastically present something to them, they respond with enthusiasm. I also learned that if you relate something children enjoy to the information you are teaching, the children are more likely to pay attention and be captivated.

What does being an arts leader mean to you?

The children’s response to my presentation really showed me what it means to be an arts leader. They showed me that being an arts leader means sharing what you do with others in the community, and displaying what has inspired you to do what you do because the community cares and is excited by exposure and opportunities. Lastly, they showed me that being an arts leader means teaching some of what you have learned as an arts student, so that the passion for learning about the arts is ignited and to show that education in the arts has a reason to continue.

Jieming Tang Pays it Forward with Music

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15 year-old violinist and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Jieming Tang (Show 251) found a “second home” with the parishioners at Saint Colman Catholic Church in Cleveland, OH – their support was truly helpful during his transition to the United States. Jieming shares more below:

As newcomers to America from China, everything was new to us, and settling down and adapting to the totally new environment was very difficult in the first couple of years. We always got kind help from the parishioners when we were in need. For example, most of our furniture was given by them. When we were moving to a new apartment, many of them offered to drive their trucks for transporting, free of charge. Our bikes were stolen four times, and they always gave us bikes immediately afterwards. Everybody in the community was very kind and friendly to us, and we were so lucky to have all of them. They made us feel at home and involved, not feeling lonely and isolated like many newcomers do.

When Jieming heard about the church’s recent financial struggles, he wanted to find a way to give back to the community that had given him so much. He recorded a collection of beloved classics, such as “Ave Maria” and “Meditation from Thais,” and launched a CD sale in hopes of raising funds for the church. Over 900 copies of the CD were sold in just two weeks, raising over $1,000 for Saint Colman! The CD is still available for purchase on the church website.

Jieming AL Photo 1

We asked Jieming to share more about his experience…

FTT: What inspired you to record your own CD?

Jieming: Once after Mass, I had been chatting with Father Bob in jest, when he said since so many people enjoyed my music very much, maybe I could consider recording a CD. My eyes immediately lit up at the idea….St. Colman Church was facing capital shortages and had just begun a campaign to keep the church open. I had been thinking about doing something to give back to this community which had helped me in a big way, as well as to promote classical music. Why not record a CD for sale, with the proceeds donated to the Church’s capital campaign, to achieve these goals?

FTT: Who else was involved with this project?

Jieming: I (reached out to) Sister Mary Beth Gray, who is the music minister at the church, about this idea the next time I met her. She was very excited about this idea and was very supportive of it. We (decided to) make the recording in late Fall, so we would have enough time to prepare for it. The CD would then be ready in time for the Christmas season.

FTT: Walk us through the steps you had to take with this process…

Jieming: There were numerous things to consider: music selection, recording place and engineers, CD cover design, pianist/organist, mastering/post-production, duplication, marketing, etc. I made a list of 20 possible pieces and discussed with Sr. Mary Beth several times. Finally we narrowed it down to 12 pieces, which was a decent amount for a CD. The repertoire comprises mostly easy-listening classical music, with some religious music and technically complicated music.

After a lot of communication and coordination with the relevant parties, we finally settled the recording dates on November 16 and 17, which were the earliest available times of Kulas Hall. It is at Cleveland Institute of Music, and has excellent acoustics and an organ.

FTT: How did everything turn out?

Jieming: The 1,000 copies of CDs finally came out for sale on December 10 after months of hard work and hundreds of emails. We were all extremely excited about it. The sales were better than we had expected. Several hundred copies had been pre-ordered by the community and my schools. By Christmas Eve, more than 900 copies had been sold in just two weeks! I have received a lot of positive reviews from the buyers. Here is a note sent to me from one of them:

Jieming, I have been selling your CDs at my Beauty Salon and a client purchased 3 CDs yesterday after listening to your music. He left the Salon and returned shortly after with this gift [an exquisite Hohner harmonica] for you. He is also a musician. He said to have fun & enjoy!

FTT: What did you learn from this project? 

Jieming: I learned how to face challenges and overcome difficulties. I also realized how wonderful, loving, and helping others are, and how joyful it is to bring others music and to serve others. This project was one of the most challenging things in my life. Because of my heavy schoolwork and busy schedule at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra, finding time to practice the repertoire was always a struggle. Sometimes I felt overwhelmed and exhausted, but after the project was finally completed successfully, it was one of the happiest times of my life

Nikita Annenkov on Why Musicians Should be Flexible

I think it is very important for musicians these days to be flexible and able to do many types of jobs in the music world aside from playing an instrument. 

Cellist Nikita Annenkov (Show 238) had a really unique experience this past summer at the Chamber Music Connection’s (CMC) Summer Music Festival – he was a teacher, a mentor, and an arts administrator. Nikita reflects on his experience at the festival below…

I have been with Chamber Music Connection (CMC) since 2007, which was when I moved to Ohio from Uzbekistan. I was a recipient of the Chamber Music Columbus Scholarship and was also a part of the CMC Fellowship Program. My chamber music experience comes mostly from CMC – I grew to love the program as it guided me on the path to be a well-rounded musician over the years. I attended CMC’s 2012 Summer Festival as a returning alumnus, where I assisted with chamber ensemble coachings and helped advertise CMC to the community. I think it is very important for musicians these days to be flexible and able to do many types of jobs in the music world aside from playing an instrument. It is well known that times are tough for young musicians, so being a well-rounded musician with many skills, including administrative, will provide more opportunities to succeed in the field of music.

This summer I experienced what it can be like in the “real professional world”. As part of promoting CMC, for example, I had to contact local businesses and find advertising opportunities. At first I was very nervous, having not had much experience talking to business people – I was officially representing CMC and had to be professional. After the first few places I visited, it started to become much easier – by the end of an hour of meetings, I had talked to a number of business owners who were happy to host a chamber music group’s performance during the festival week. One business even offered to host a small fundraiser and donate a portion of the profits to support CMC. I learned that it is as important to be able to represent yourself and make a name for yourself as knowing how to play your instrument; talent and skills will not mean much when nobody knows about you. Being engaged with musicians but not actually performing made me think of other career choices I might like if it doesn’t work out with cello performance. I have thought about other career choices and I found that I would enjoy other subjects, such as teaching theory or becoming a music critic. When the festival started, I would take a group to downtown Worthington everyday at lunch to play in front of a local business. Of course, since the program was mostly made up of younger musicians, Graeter’s Ice Cream became the favorite place to play. This year CMC celebrated its 20th anniversary, but there were still people from the community who had never heard of the program – they quickly came to enjoy the “Classical Music – Ice Cream Afternoon Special”.  I also got a chance to coach a chamber music orchestra, which was very interesting. I haven’t had much experience coaching young musicians before, so I had to adjust and find ways to make the rehearsal interesting and productive.

The whole experience of being an alum, as well as being a part of CMC, but not as a performer, definitely made me feel more professional and responsible. My task of promoting CMC may not have been a difficult one, but it was very rewarding. I had to make decisions, take charge, and be on time – all tasks worth having as a performer. I am very happy that I had an opportunity to challenge myself this way and have such a productive summer.

Karen Baumgartner on the Simple Joys of Sharing Music

Music is amazing when you are working on it, but it is so much more rewarding when you know that there are people who can simply appreciate all the longs hours you put into practicing.

Flutist Karen Baumgartner (Show 250), A From the Top Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist, believes that “music has the power to bring people into a story and draw them into a performance”. It was this very belief that inspired her to visit the residents of the Johana Shores Assisted Living Community – a group of people who otherwise have limited access to live concert experiences. In addition to meeting some lovely new people, Karen gained an even broader view of what it means to be a musician.

We asked Karen some questions to learn more about her visit to Johana Shores…

FTT: What made this visit memorable?

Karen: I absolutely loved connecting with the residents and staff in the nursing home. I got to the nursing home a little early and was able to play some card games with a few people there. It was fun to tell them that I was going to be performing, and to then see how much they enjoyed the music. Everyone was so appreciative to have me play and were all very engaged.

FTT: Did you learn anything new from the experience?

Karen: It made me love being a performer even more than I did before, and made me realize how much people can appreciate music. It was fun to play at such a close and personal level because I got to hear feedback after every piece. At a formal recital, you hear the applause but don’t get to hear people’s comments and questions . . . at the nursing home, so many of the people were interested, and I was happy to talk to them about my musical background and plans. It’s easy to get caught up in the routine of performing and hearing the applause but it was nice to have the routine shaken up for a change and get positive feedback right when the piece was done. Playing in the nursing home made me remember that the reason I can hope to make a career out of music is because there are people who love to listen to classical music just as much as I love to perform it.

FTT: Were there any surprises?

Karen: After one of the pieces I performed, I was able to talk about my amazing opportunity to appear on From the Top and play at Carnegie Hall. I expected most people to know what Carnegie Hall was, but it was fun to see some of the people perk up and talk about how they listen to From the Top. I also talked about my performances on Minnesota Public Radio, and found out that the residents listen to it everyday at lunch. I wasn’t expecting to be able to help them connect something they hear on the radio to someone they can see in real life; I was happy that I could be that connection.

FTT: What does being an “arts leader” mean to you? 

Karen: It means that I will make an effort that isn’t always the easy choice, such as performing in classrooms at a school, or trying to get my friends to understand what I love about classical music so much! Being an arts leader means that instead of focusing on myself and being a better player all the time, I will focus on sharing my talent and the impact it has on others around me. I will not just show off my talent at recitals and performances, but will try to connect with people and help them see why music is so important to me.

Alex Nelson and the Gift of Music Therapy

[Music] is such an underrated resource, yet people use music every day. We have it in our cars, on our phones, in the grocery store – it is everywhere we go and it is used to alter or encourage our own moods. My hope is that people will be able to recognize music not only as an art form, but as a tool to help others overcome obstacles in their life.

Having seen music’s restorative power through her own experiences, bassoonist and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Alexandra Nelson (Show 243) wanted to explore ways that music can inspire others beyond the concert hall setting. She decided to connect with several music therapists from her hometown, and wrote the following essay to share her experiences:

What Music Can Do 

It was once said that music is what feelings sound like. For the average person, we would all agree that music can transform our attitudes, change our perspectives, set a mood, help us from feeling alone… the list goes on. But how does music affect someone who has mental or physical disabilities?

This has been something that I have been more interested in as I have grown older. Given my own difficult family situation, I used music as an escape. Practicing became a way to disappear out of the discomfort in my household and focus on something beautiful. What about people who are uncomfortable in their own body or their own mind? I soon began to question if music would have the same effect on people other than me, other than just musicians.

Music therapy embodies this very idea. On the website for the American Music Therapists Association, it is defined as, “the clinical and evidence-based use of music interventions to accomplish individualized goals within a therapeutic relationship by a credentialed professional who has completed an approved music therapy program.” These goals can be anything from opening oneself up emotionally to distracting someone from intense pain to encouraging verbal communication. Therapeutically, the benefits are endless. I have quickly learned that, not only is music enjoyable and mood altering, but it is a growing resource for therapists dealing with people who suffer from any type of disability or disorder.

When I sought out the music therapist, Eve Montague, at the South Shore Conservatory in Duxbury, I was just looking to have her shed a little light on this topic. She was able to share many stories with me: a patient with serious physical problems regaining use of her fingers and toes, a premature infant’s heart and breathing rate stabilizing immediately after birth, a burn victim becoming seemingly immune to the pain while having his dead skin removed – all through music therapy. It seemed unreal. I knew that music was powerful, but could it really have that much of an effect on people? I’ve experienced it myself, but never to this degree.

In my excitement, I began to participate in an adult chorus with Eve at the Conservatory, working with mentally delayed adults to sing and make music once a week. It was a place where people could socialize, learn about music, and most importantly, grow as a person. There was a woman who was nonverbal but still able to make sounds. Throughout the year, I soon realized that she was mouthing the words and actually quietly singing along. A young boy who shyly kept to himself before chorus was a new person when it came time to sing – yelling the words, jumping for joy at the climax of a song. This was all through music.

Another therapist who works with Eve, named Kari O’Brient, travels to several locations offsite for her therapy sessions. When I asked to observe her at a local elementary school, I had no idea what to expect. All I knew was that I wanted to see music therapy first hand, in all of its glory, to better understand how it really works in an everyday setting.

I traveled to the Hatherly School, an elementary school in Scituate, one afternoon with Kari to work with two special education classes. We arrived, signed in at the office, and headed down the hall, our arms full of drums and scarves, with a guitar on Kari’s back and a bag filled with who-knows-what hanging off of my shoulder.

When Kari walked into the room ahead of me, the room erupted. The kids could no longer focus on their math or reading – it was music time! We headed into one corner of the small room with a bright colored rug, bulletin boards creating a space around us, and a chair for each of the students, Kari, and me. I sat down anxiously and waited for the therapy to begin.

Instead, Kari quietly took the guitar case from off of her back while asking the kids how their vacation was. However, after a soft bitter mumble from the few kids around us, Kari laughed off their negative reaction and started to strum. Soon, her chatty words turned to song, “Why hello there, you guys! I know I’m happy to be here. Hmm mmm, hello, hello!” The energy in the room suddenly shifted back to excitement. We all sang the hello song, each of us having a chance to say our own name and say hello to the rest of the class. Not only was this song encouraging friendly greetings, but it was teaching the kids to say their name and “hello” loudly and clearly. For anyone with a social disorder, such as autism, even saying hello to someone can be a challenge. Kari, though, with her bright smile and upbeat guitar playing, had everyone doing this with ease. The next song was a variation on “Head-Shoulders-Knees-and Toes,” with Kari’s own musical spin. The students stood, did the dance moves, and some even took a turn leading the song.

I really noticed at that point that, despite the necessary therapeutic value these songs had for these kids, they really enjoyed this! It was a break from their school day. Especially for someone with disabilities, even the simplest of tasks can seem daunting and overwhelming. Music therapy was a care free and light hearted time set aside where they could simply be themselves, but still be absorbing necessary lessons like verbal skills and physical coordination.

The lessons continued – more songs, more dancing, more swaying back and forth, more singing – the fun went on, and so did the therapy. The next class was more of the same – excited children, each eager to listen and play while still taking part in the therapy. I left the school feeling excited, rejuvenated, and encouraged at the idea that music had such an impact on these kids. Not only did they have a great time playing and singing with Kari, but they were reclaiming themselves as fun-loving children, able to let go of whatever troubles they were having in school earlier that day, and just enjoy the therapy for all that it was.

Despite all of my wonderful exposure to music therapy, there is just one problem that I always come across when I leave the conservatory atmosphere: no one I know seems to respect music as a valid source of therapy. I learned quickly that this was because they didn’t understand it, but that’s no reason to dismiss it.

This is why I am writing this piece today: through my own experiences, I have learned and will continue to learn more about music therapy so that I can share it with my peers. It is such an underrated resource, yet people use music every day. We have it in our cars, on our phones, in the grocery store – it is everywhere we go and it is used to alter or encourage our own moods. My hope is that people will be able to recognize music not only as an art form, but as a tool to help others overcome obstacles in their life. As the author Berthold Auerbach said, “music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life,” no matter what that dust may be.

Alex is currently pursuing a dual degree in Bassoon Performance and Music Education at Northwestern University.

From the Teaching Journal of Gloria Ferry-Brennan

(credit: Michele Stapleton)

“[Teaching] is one of the most important and gratifying professions, and I plan on continuing my new-found passion!”

When violinist and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Gloria Ferry-Brennan appeared on our show this past February (Brunswick 247), she took us on a magical spoken tour of her hometown: the colorful and picturesque Whidbey Island (off the coast of Washington state). She also spoke about her teacher Linda Good (pictured below) who co-founded the island’s Suzuki music program Island Strings. This past summer, Linda asked Gloria to join her in teaching two local violin students who were unable to afford lessons on their own. Gloria worked with the two boys over the summer, capturing her experiences and learning in a personal journal. Not only did she grow as a teacher, but also as a performer – she shares one of her journal entries below:

I walked into Linda’s cozy home and saw a newspaper clipping on the wall about my appearance on From The Top. Two young boys followed me in: one was about 7 years old and had deep, dark brown eyes. Immediately I knew there was something special about him and that he would be a pleasure to teach. The younger one was a small delicate boy with loads of energy. He was enthusiastic about music and I could tell that he was a natural performer. We all got out our instruments and I showed them how I set up the violin and bow. This might seem like an easy task, but it took a lot of concentration to make sure I showed them the perfect technique. It has become rather second nature for me to set up my instrument. However, thinking about it made me more aware of what I was doing and how I could improve. Linda asked the students to try to copy me, and together we set them up just right. We sang little songs to help us remember how to hold the bow; songs that I had sung more than 10 years ago in that very same house. It was amazing to see how much I still remembered. It made me a little nervous to be teaching in front of my former teacher but I got the hang of it quickly and the nerves turned into enthusiastic excitement over the boys’ progress. The older boy was using a violin that was too big for him. His mother asked me if I thought this was a problem and I expressed my concern. I explained that comfort was one of the most important aspects of playing the violin and discomfort could cause injury later on in his life. After the lesson Linda asked me to play a few songs for the boys. They were very impressed and when I left that day I felt like I had reached my goal of inspiring them to make beautiful music. Later I got an email from the oldest boy’s mom telling me how I had made such an impression on her son and she said that he keeps talking about how “really, really, really, really good that girl at Linda’s house was at the violin!”

Stay tuned as we continue to follow Gloria’s teaching experiences with Linda and Island Strings! 

Carson Marshall Aims to Inspire

Being an arts leader to me means inspiring that “spark” in others so they can realize what they are capable of. It’s about empowering people to go after something they normally wouldn’t, or showing them a piece of their full potential and how easy it is to accomplish their goals. – Carson Marshall

When 17 year-old violinist and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Carson Marshall appeared on From the Top (Show 245, Boston, Massachusetts), he gave a heartfelt account of his own difficulties with sight-reading music due to a learning disability. He never thought that his words and actions would have such a powerful impact, and quickly learned that sharing one’s experiences can empower others to realize their own potential.

An unexpected inspiration came through Classical South Florida’s Reach Out contest. Applicants to the contest were asked to write a letter to a recent From the Top performer, sharing what they loved about the performance and including three questions for that performer. Violinist Josiah Blanchette (also 17) was inspired by Carson’s story. He shared a similar struggle with sight-reading, and was encouraged to hear that there are other musicians out there like him. Moved by Josiah’s honesty and passion for music, Carson wrote the following letter in response:

A month later, Carson visited a class of middle school strings students from his hometown of Amherst, MA to help them realize their own potential. Seeing their engagement inspired Carson to talk more about his own struggles, and how determination and hard work helped him get to where he is today and envision a future in music. During the presentation, Carson focused on tone quality, demonstrating factors that can effect tone, such as bow speed and pressure, and how to apply these to actual music. He shares more on his goals for and learning from the experience below:

[I wanted] to teach younger children the basics and fundamentals of their instruments, and hopefully either inspire them to continue practicing or keep them from quitting. I also hoped to show these kids that even though it was hard for me to get to where I am today, I did have some fun along the way, and all they have to do is stick with it. My goal was to show these kids that they can be as good as they want to be, and there is nothing holding them back. I wanted to show them they can become great players with work, and that it’s possible (and quite simple) for them to make a good sound on their instrument. Overall, I felt like the kids responded well to the presentation, and I got a lot of great feedback. I think now that these kids know what is possible with their instruments, they will continue to seek that sound and become better players because for it.

About to start as a freshman at Rice University, Carson hopes to continue sharing his story to inspire and empower others. We can’t wait to see what he does next!

Hannah Moses Demonstrates the Powerful Connection Between Music and Healing

I have now been cancer free for 11 years. Music played an enormous part in my own healing process and has continued to be an incredibly important part of who I am. I can’t imagine my life without it.

Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Hannah Moses performs on From the Top

In January of 2001, six-year-old Hannah Moses (Show 241) was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s Lymphona. While being treated at the Cleveland Clinic, she found her cello to be a source of both comfort and happiness. Fast forward to 2012 – Hannah, now cancer free, wanted to share the healing power of music and highlight its importance as a method of therapy. She traveled to the Cleveland Clinic with friend and violinist Haruno Sato (Show 241), where they performed for guests and patients in the clinic’s lobby. She was then invited to attend a Cleveland Clinic Child Life staff meeting to share her own personal struggle with cancer, and how music became a powerful tool in helping her cope with recovery. She says the following about the visit:

Our goal was simply to share our music and demonstrate the important role that music and art play in healing.”

We asked Hannah a few questions to learn more about her visit to the Cleveland Clinic…

FTT: What was it was like having to stay for months in a hospital at such a young age?

Hannah: The hospital can be a scary place for anyone, but I remember it being especially confusing and foreign to me as a kid. The first thing I noticed was the constant noise – pagers going off, the beeping of the IV’s, nurses coming in and out of my room to check my meds; it never seemed to stop, not even at night. I never fully got used to all the sounds – which made for a lot of sleepless nights over the next several months.

FTT: What role did music play in helping you cope with this?

Hannah at the Cleveland Clinic Child Life staff meeting

Hannah: I remember one day my dad brought my cello to the hospital and my mom practiced with me like we did every day at home. Being able to have my cello there with me helped me block everything else out – not just the constant noise, but also the reality that was cancer.
It gave me a sense of something normal to hold on to, and some days that was the only thing that kept me going. A lot of people don’t realize how much children understand. I may have been only six, but I knew what was happening to me, and music was my way of coping. Because of the cancer, I could hardly walk, and because of the chemo I had very little control over my body. Being able to express myself through music was something that couldn’t be taken away from me; it was something that was still mine.

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Connecting with Peers through Music in Potsdam, NY

We love having the chance to meet with other young musicians whenever we’re on tour for a show. This past April brought us to Potsdam, NY, where we were able to meet with two groups of high school music students. Performers John Lee (cello) and Margaux Filet (flute) joined us for these events. We first visited a class of orchestra and choir students at Canton High School, then traveled to Potsdam High School to meet with a group of students in band and choir. Both groups had really wonderful questions to ask after each program, from “what keeps you motivated to practice?” to “how do you spend your downtime?”

Our performers’ music and stories made great connections with these two audiences. Margaux opened the program with the wonderful Fantaisie by Georges Hue, then gave them a “sneak peek” of the piece she would be playing on From the Top the next evening: George Enescu’s Cantabile. She spoke about her appearance on From the Top as being a “dream come true” for her musical aspirations, and how hobbies like exercise and spending quality time with her family helps her to keep balance. Next was John, who performed Bach’s Cello Suite No. 3 and ended the program with a dazzling “Sacher Variation” by Witold Lutoslawski. John shared that, when not performing or practicing, he loves to play frisbee and hang out with friends.

We asked our performers to share their thoughts on the experience, which you can check out in the video below:

Sandra Bailey Inspires Students to Pursue their Dreams

“(This event) made me realize what kids can accomplish when given the necessary support from role models in their community. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to enrich the lives of…youth in my own community.”

Sandra Bailey with Atlanta Preparatory Academy students

Bassoonist Sandra Bailey understands the value of outlining goals to help achieve one’s dreams. Wanting to share this message with younger students in her hometown, she visited a 6th and 7th grade music class at the Atlanta Preparatory Academy, where her younger sister is a student.

After challenging the students to write down their goals, Sandra talked about the steps she took to make her own dreams become a reality, from getting her first bassoon, to appearing on From the Top and being selected as a Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist (she was on Show #232 and will be part of our upcoming gala!).

Sandra dazzled the students with a range of musical selections, from Bolero to the SpongeBob theme, and encouraged them to explore their own musical potential. She created a special pamphlet with musical opportunities in Atlanta for the students to take home and share with their parents.

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