by Katie Siegfried
From a young age, I loved going to see my teachers play chamber music. I was totally captured with the communication and the energy shared between each player. So naturally, when I got my first opportunity to play in a quartet in 5th grade, I was absolutely thrilled. My friends and I had been placed in a quartet for a summer institute playing the second movement of Beethoven’s Op. 59 No. 2, one of his Razumovsky Quartets. Doubtlessly a breathtaking piece of music, it was a little more than too much to bite off for a group of kids our age. Regardless, we dove in head first with nothing but excitement in our hearts. While chamber music itself is a group effort, this production took a village. In the weeks leading up to our institute, we met with teachers, practice partners, and other students in an effort to make whatever sense we could of this piece. Hours of work went in on our behalf and on the behalf of our support system, and I will never forget that.
Through that process, I learned what music is truly about. We did end up performing that piece, albeit not in a concert hall; we put on colorful plastic tiaras and played for anyone who would listen in a classroom. We learned how to communicate and practice eye contact by sticking our tongues out at each other at important moments in the piece. We learned how to move as a group by dancing and singing the piece, and how to bond with strangers by dressing up our coach’s cello case as his wife. Regardless of how we sounded, I will never forget that experience, those people, or how it’s made me fall in love with chamber music.
After writing this post, I was actually able to unearth a video of this performance. Watching it almost 8 years later, I can say that all of our musical ability has greatly improved, and our enthusiasm for doing what we love has only grown. I am eternally grateful for the teachers and parents who continue to support our crazy endeavors, and continue to videotape the embarrassing ones.