Opportunities abound to embrace classical music locally

Celebrate Classical Music Month by giving it a listen

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Classical Music resources

There are several classical music resources for youth in the area which include the following:
Children's Chorus of Sussex County
Sussex County Youth Orchestra
Membership in the Sussex County Youth Orchestras requires a recommendation by the student's private teacher or his/her public school teacher. Visit www.SCYO.org
James Ankrom, Classical Guitarist
973-579-2752, classicalgas.gtr@gmail.com
Kathy Clinton, Musical Instructor
Teacher of wind and brass instruments, njmusicmaker@embarqmail.com
Pandora.com and Youtube.com offer many links to classical music

September is Classical Music Month and Sussex County offers many options to delve into this musical journey.

Deborah Mello

Founded in the fall of 1990 by Deborah Mello, of Newton, the Children's Chorus of Sussex County offers kids the opportunity to join together in choral art. It is comprised of three choir levels and welcomes young people from first grade through high school.

"In terms of classical music and the work I do with children's choirs, there are many reasons that endorse why children should be exposed to music of historical, social, emotional and intellectual worth," said Mello, who also is the Children's Choir Director at Christ Episcopal Church, in Newton, and has won numerous musical awards.

Mello has seen first hand how choral music provides children with pathways to greater understanding not just about music but "about complex life issues and intellectual development." She said there are studies linking intelligence to music and this is why the ancient Greeks held music at the core of all understanding with all other subjects feeding out from the understanding of music.

"Classical music is complex and provides for ordered thinking," Mello said. "It reaches children through the most basic life emotions of joy and sorrow."

Dawn and Gerald Tedesco

Dawn and Gerald Tedesco, of Andover, direct the Sussex County Youth Orchestra — founded in spring of 1987.

"There were no string programs in Sussex County for young students not even in the public schools," Dawn Tedesco said. "Now only two public schools in Sussex County have string orchestra programs, Vernon and Sparta."

The orchestra is open to kids age six through 18, and adult professional mentors play with different groups to assist and teach. The orchestra includes all levels and instruments such as string and wind plus a complete percussion section and timpani.

"Parental encouragement and involvement in the program is integral to its success," Tedeco said. "The students and their parents and the community are exposed to a diversity of music. Interest in classical music is instilled in our students by exposing them to reduced rate concerts at New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and the New York Philharmonic Concerts at Lincoln Center."

Kathie Clinton

Kathie Clinton, of Fredon, started teaching music in high school to fellow musicians who needed that extra push or just a better understanding of rhythms, styles, etc. She now teaches children ages eight through the teens woodwind and brass instruments.

"As the student matures and becomes more capable as a player, exposing them to different styles of music such as classical, jazz and even rock in some cases, helps to determine what they like best and what their aspirations are as a musician," she said. "Of course certain instruments lend themselves to certain types of music whereas others don't. For instance, a clarinet player can expect to play in orchestras, primarily classical repertoire or pit-bands for musicals but not necessarily in jazz or rock bands. A sax player will be a rarity in an orchestra but an absolute must in a jazz or rock band and even musicals. Most any wind instrument can be played in a concert band. A string player will find his or her home most commonly in an orchestra which plays classical music almost exclusively."

"A taste for classical music, in my opinion, takes more time to develop than other styles of music. In our society we are more exposed to non-orchestral instruments on the radio, concerts in our local areas, etc," Clinton said. "I've come to find in teaching that once a student advances to playing classical music, a parent or parents who have not been exposed to such and friends as well, also develop an interest in listening and this becomes an activity that they can enjoy together by attending concerts together or purchasing classical recordings to listen to."

Bill Wright

Bill Wright owns a music school in Sparta. He started playing when he was 14 years old at his eighth grade graduation party on his uncle's 12 string guild acoustic guitar.

"It was a life changing experience," Wright said.

His affinity for music led him to start teaching soon after attending Berklee College of Music. At Bill Wright School of Music he teaches many different styles of music. Though the main focus is on popular styles including rock, jazz, blues, county and bluegrass, he does teach classical music as well.

"I believe we should stop cutting funding for the arts and music in our schools and offer more music and art appreciation classes," Wright said.

James Ankrom

James Ankrom, of Stillwater, sings in the Christ Church choir, a group which is preparing for a big performance of Requiem on Nov. 2. He perpetuates music in the community as a classical guitarist playing at weddings and "tasteful gatherings."

"Classical music appreciation is a matter of giving children the opportunity to learn music at a very young age and continue programs of excellent music offerings throughout their formative years," Mello said. "This will allow children to become performing artists, more intelligent and compassionate human beings, music consumers and patrons of music."

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