20 October 2023

More parents and teachers are getting their kids into classical music - here's why

| James Coleman
Young classical musicians hold a violin and cello near a grand piano

Kaytlin and Sienna Copaceanu, from CSO’s Kingsland Strings program. Photo: James Coleman.

We’re told modern music decades from now will take the form of grotesque animal noises as it continues its slide away from rhythm and tune and all that good, foot-tapping, head-banging stuff. But there could be hope. Georges Bizet – and others – could be coming back from the dead.

Kaytlin and Sienna Copaceanu are only aged 11 and 9 respectively, but they’ve just picked up a violin and cello and coaxed a stunning duet of ‘Habanera’ from Carmen out of them.

“They started piano when they were quite young and really loved it,” their mother Erica explains.

“Then they saw some videos on YouTube of people playing stringed instruments and they really enjoyed them, so that’s how they got into it.”

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The sisters are schooled at their home in Waramanga but attend extracurricular lessons with dedicated music teachers once a week. Neither can imagine a life without music.

“Both of them play violin and do a lot of duets together,” Erica explains.

“They’re hoping to go on to do a music degree later on and continue developing their talent.”

The girls are also in Kingsland Strings, a new program started in July this year by the Canberra Symphony Orchestra (CSO) for enthusiastic string players aged 8 to 12, and brought on by demand as more parents and teachers realise the benefits.

Participants rehearse and perform in groups alongside CSO concertmaster Kirsten Williams, honing their ensemble skills each week and on-stage confidence in one-on-one sessions. Free tickets to CSO concerts are also thrown in for inspiration.

CSO CEO Rachel Thomas says the aim is to “empower the next generation of music makers”.

“The program is designed to mentor musicians from primary school right through to their tertiary studies,” she explains.

“It guides young musicians from their first performance to becoming a professional musician while fostering a lifelong love for the arts.”

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So far, seven young musicians have joined the new program, including the Copaceanu sisters, while the Canberra Symphony Youth Chamber Ensemble (CSYCO) adds another 20. Next year, budding players will be given the chance to join the Kingsland Brass Ensemble.

Ms Thomas says music is proven to boost outcomes in other areas of schooling and “positively impact children’s cognitive, social and emotional development”.

“Our youth programs have grown and we’ve seen the enthusiasm and love they show for Mozart and Tchaikovsky,” she says.

“If kids are exposed to classical music at an early age, they’re more inclined to understand and appreciate it … Engaging with professional musicians regularly and then seeing them perform onstage models excellence, creates connections and ownership for the next generation of orchestral musicians and supporters of the arts.”

Young classical musicians

Kaytlin and Sienna Copaceanu, from CSO’s Kingsland Strings program. Photo: James Coleman.

Participants come from across Canberra’s public and private schools and the home-schooled Copaceanu girls. Scholarship assistance is also available for those whose only barrier to joining is financial.

Erica says her girls really love it, particularly the opportunity to play with other kids.

“It’s quite different from what they’ve done before – it’s a treat. They really look forward to it every week, so it’s also a reward for practising.”

“We are really happy as parents and thankful to the team.”

You’ll have the chance to watch the Kingsland Strings during a fundraising gala for CSO from 6 pm on Friday, 3 November, hosted by Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston AK AFC (Retd), with Genevieve Jacobs AM as MC. Visit the CSO website for more information (ticket sales close 10 am, Monday, 23 October).

Original Article published by James Coleman on Riotact.

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