expanding students' approach to music
“What do you think of when you play or hear the gliss?” Pedro Sanchez, a cellist with the Ivalas Quartet, posed the question to the seventh and eighth graders in John Jay Middle School’s Orchestra regarding the glissando, or slide from one note to the next, in the piece the students had just played for the professional musicians.
“A bird … a slide whistle … the wind,” the students answered. “Excellent!” said Sanchez. “Let’s pick one for now, because each one will make you play the gliss differently.”
Filling the classroom with music
by special arrangement with Caramoor
This was the type of innovative engagement that John Jay orchestra students experienced recently through a master class with the Ivalas Quartet—a young, award-winning quartet that spotlights BIPOC composers. The visit—the second this year—was arranged for by John Jay conductor Elissa Leventhal in coordination with Caramoor, where the Ivalas Quartet is the String Quartet in Residence.
“It is an amazing experience for students to work with real professionals in the field of music," said Leventhal. "The Ivalas Quartet was so encouraging towards the kids and it’s a real inspiration to get feedback from these musicians.”
A conversation about music
Q&A with the Ivalas Quartet
Each John Jay orchestra had the opportunity to listen and watch the Ivalas Quartet perform up close, and then play for the Quartet. There was also time for a Q&A.
“Why do you move so much when you play?” one middle school student asked. “Moving, as well as eye contact, helps us stay together,” the Ivalas Quartet replied. “Body language also helps us bring emotion into our playing.”
“Are these the oldest instruments you’ve ever played?” The musicians had highlighted that they were playing instruments from Julliard’s musical instrument bank, the oldest being a cello from 1642, as well as a 1728 Stradivarius--the most rare and valuable violins ever made. “Absolutely,” the musicians responded. “The music we think of as classical was modern for the people who first owned these instruments.”
feedback and encouragement
Before the orchestra played the gliss again, Sanchez asked the students to vocalize the sound, then imagine it in the piece as part of a conversation. “That sounds amazing,” the Ivalas Quartet said to the middle school students after they performed the piece again.