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Striking a Chord

Bryan and Silvie of Cheng2Duo managed to get middle school musicians so excited last week that students were lined up for autographs after the presentation at HMS. The artists graciously signed gum wrappers, cell phone cases, students’ arms and even one forehead!

I was truly impressed at the level of dialogue Bryan and Silvie fostered among the 115 students. Their questions centered around emotional reactions to the music, and the imagery that came to mind while listening:

I thought about a lifetime-in the middle it was more upbeat and then later on it felt like sorrow.
A chase.
A love story.
A ship on the ocean.
To me it sounded like a mountain range or a bee buzzing.

It was inspiring to hear middle school students share such personal reactions so willingly, and to see how engaged they were throughout the experience. Bryan and Silvie shared stories of their childhood (they are siblings), when Bryan used to use his cello to trick their mother into thinking her tea kettle was whistling. They demonstrated the experiments they have done to create animal sounds with their instruments. The music teachers pointed out a number of students who perked up at the mention of this unconventional sound exploration.

“One of my 7th grade cellists with HMS attended the Cheng Duo’s evening performance because of this outreach; they sat in the front row with their parents and purchased a CD to have autographed after the show. They are FIRED UP about cello now!” Kara Nelson, Helena Middle School Orchestra

“I got on the bus to CR after the show was wrapped up and asked what they thought–the roar of approval was deafening!” Kevin Cleary, C.R. Anderson Middle School Orchestra


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