KIDS ROCK - YOUNG MUSICIANS SHARE HIGHLIGHTS FROM SUMMERSTRINGS! JUNIOR ORCHESTRA
by Elizabeth Winchester
Matthew Schneider motioned for fellow musician Frank Ferrara to begin playing the electric guitar. Then Schneider signaled drummer James Guarnieri and the 26 elementary school kids enrolled in his SummerStrings! Junior Orchestra to begin their piano, bass, cello, viola and violin parts, too. Together, the ensemble played Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” to open their concert on August 6 at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Sea Cliff and captured the attention of all.
“Finally, it’s rock music, not classical,” says Mark, a 9-year-old bassist. Most of the other young strings players agree that the song is their favorite of the three selections Schneider had taught them during the six-week summer program.
For the second selection “Eleanor Rigby,” students used long, full bow strokes to create the song’s somber sound. Schneider had chosen to include a Beatles’ song to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the group’s arrival in the United States.
To close the concert, the students played a country song called “Fiddles on Fire,” during which they improvised solos. Emily, a 9-year-old violinist, likes this song best “because it sounds good together.” Will, 9, knew that concertgoers would enjoy the song’s solo section and the bluegrass beat that he and the other bassists created by slapping their strings. “The solos are really cool because you hear all of these different rhythms created by different instruments and people,” he explains. “And the slapping is just plain cool!”
The music, says Schneider, was not easy to learn. “The kids truly rose to the challenge and made music in a way that they had never done before,” he says. “I am extremely proud of each of them!”
The kids liked the challenge, music and also working with kids of different ages and from surrounding towns. Many of the kids, including 8-year-old cellist Aaron, take private lessons with Schneider during the school year, but others were studying with him for the first time. Says Aaron: “The coolest thing about SummerStrings! is that I was [making music] with my friends and with the best teacher ever.” Learn more about the program and Schneider’s work at www.seacliffmusic.com.
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