Three more songs, strings instructor Chelsea Pennebaker counseled a group of beginning violin students who mistakenly thought it was time to come on stage. “You only have three more songs, and then it’s your turn.”
The young group returned to their seats at the regional high school Performing Arts Center Friday night, violins in tow. Ms. Pennebaker pulled out errant strings on one student’s bow, then fixed a bridge on another’s violin.
On stage, more advanced students stood to perform Bach’s Minuet.
“Aren’t they fabulous?” instructor Nancy Jephcote asked the audience, and parents and families responded with a hearty round of applause.
The annual winter concert is a showcase for students in the All-Island elementary strings program. All fall Ms. Jephcote and Ms. Pennebaker travel to each of the Vineyard schools, spending a half hour each week working with beginning, intermediate and advanced groups of musicians. Kindergartners begin with Suzuki training, mastering the art of holding their bows and instruments properly and practicing Hot Cross Buns.
Students begin on pint-sized violins, but older students can move to viola or cello. The occasional bass makes an appearance too.
The concert features all levels of students. Ms. Jephcote said hearing the confident melodies of the older players is motivating for young musicians, who are still uncertain of the potential hidden in their squeaking violin strings.
And like any recital, the winter concert is also a chance to celebrate the efforts of parents in encouraging their children.
Ms. Jephcote laughed as she recounted asking a student how much she was enjoying the violin program at school. On a scale of one to 10, the student ranked classes a nine. But practicing at home earned “probably a one.”
“[Parents] have no idea how much fun their kids are having,” Ms. Jephcote said.
At least not until Friday night.