Recital features young musicians

About 125 students perform during Strings Attached concert

Tom Munds
Piano instructor Miriam Kapner, right, directs her students as they take part in the Jan. 12 Strings Attached recital at the Englewood Middle School auditorium. The voluntary, after-school instrumental instruction program added lessons in piano and guitar this year.
Tom Munds
Aidan Johnson plays the cello during the Jan. 12 Strings Attached recital held at the Englewood Middle School Auditorium.
Tom Munds
Strings Attached head instructor Ben Thompkins gives direction as he and the students prepare to do a song during the Jan. 12 recital held at the Englewood Middle School Auditorium. Thompkins, who has been with the voluntary after-school instrumental instruction program for four years, said he was leaving the program after the recital.
Tom Munds
Students taking part in the voluntary after-school instrumental music instruction program filled the Englewood Middle School stage to capacity for the Jan. 12 recital. About 125 students learning to play the violin, viola, cello, guitar and piano took part in the recital.
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Members of the audience and fellow musicians expressed their appreciation with enthusiastic applause for every performance during the Jan. 12 Strings Attached recital.

Strings Attached offers students the opportunity to attend after-school classes to learn to play musical instruments. The program has offered lessons in the violin, viola and cello and, this year, offered guitar and piano instruction.

The entire Strings Attached student body of about 125 student musicians filled the Englewood Middle School auditorium stage to overflowing for the performance with the young piano students at keyboards on the main floor at the edge of the stage.

“This is such a wonderful program and I tip my hat to Englewood for having an instrumental music program for elementary school students,” Laura Bauer said. “I guess you could say music is a family tradition. I love music and, a long time ago, I played a flute in the high school band in Missouri. My daughter took up my instrument when she was in high school in Greeley and now my granddaughter is learning to play the violin.

She likes it and, if you watch her, you can see her smile when it is her turn to play.”
Generally, the tempo was slower as the Strings Attached students played music from the “Nutcracker” for the recital.

Ben Tompkins, head instructor, designed the program so every group of students ranging from first-year students including those learning to play the piano and the guitar students who began instructions in September to the more advanced violin and cello students who have been with the program for several years were featured on at least one song.

Autumn Mahl is one of the students in the new piano instruction programs. Her dad said she likes to play and practices about 20 minutes a day. He added she said she is getting tired of practicing the pieces for this recital.

After the recital, the 8-year-old said she decided to take piano lessons because it sounded like it would be easy to do.

“It is a little hard but not too hard,” Mahl said. “I am leaning and it is fun to do.”
Zaida Sever is a Strings Attached veteran in her fourth year in the program.

“The Strings Attached people came to our school each year to talk about the program, it sounded like it would be fun so I decided to try it and I liked it,” the 12-year-old cello player said. “When I went to sign up for the program, there was a long line signing up for violin lessons and the cello line was short so I signed up to play the cello. After four years of lessons, I am more comfortable with the cello and sometimes, I’ll take music I know and adapt it so I can play it on my cello.”

During the performance, it was announced this was final Strings Attached event for head instructor Ben Thompkins.

“I took this position because it was an opportunity to work with kids,” Thompkins said after the concert. “It has been a great four years with the program. We have gotten the opportunity to stage some performances like we did Carmen a few years ago. We also have been able to expand the program to offer instruction in additional instruments. We also created an orchestra that I understand will be part of the elementary music program next year. I loved working with kids and every one of them was special.”

While Tompkins is leaving and a new head instruction will be named soon, the other three instructors, David Short (cello), Jeremiah Sault (guitar) and Mariam Kapner (piano) are still with the program and they announced that the regular lesson schedule will continue.