Moxie Strings encourage students to find their own sound
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — It was a sold out show at Strings Music Pavilion on Wednesday night when the Moxie Strings took the stage alongside students from Steamboat Springs Middle School and Emerald Mountain School.
The performance was part of a program called Strings School Days in which the organization brings artists from around the country to Steamboat to work with local students.
“The goal is to introduce music students to professional musicians and establish a relationship,” said Katie Carroll, director of artistic administration and education for Strings Music Festival. “We want to broaden their sense of the world around them — it’s something you can’t get in a textbook.”
The Moxie Strings have been working with the students since October, when they paid their first visit to Steamboat. Since then, they’ve been communicating via video while the students practice at school. The Moxie Strings arrived back in town Sunday for final workshops and rehearsals with the students, seventh- and eighth-grade band members from Steamboat Springs Middle School and third through eighth graders at Emerald Mountain School.
The Moxie Strings are made up of Diana Ladio and Alison Lynn, two classically trained performers who are reinventing strings instruments’ role in contemporary music. They create a unique sound using a variety of audio effects as well as blending genres and melodies. After forming in 2007, they were inspired not only to perform but also to teach. They have taught clinics in over 200 schools.
On Tuesday, Emerald Mountain School students were treated to a quick performance before their rehearsal began. It was an eclectic and electric sound that had students tapping their feet and clapping their hands along to the beat.
“We want you to know that you can merge the music that you play in school with the music you listen to in your headphones,” Ladio told the students. “Anything that you want to be your thing, could be your thing.”
Ladio and Lynn encouraged students to improvise, make up their own sound and stressed that “the instruments that you’re holding in your hands are capable of so many cool things.”
What: Steel Betty with Steamboat Springs and Moffat County high schools
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 24
Where: Strings Music Pavilion, 900 Strings Road
For many of these students, their musical journey began in kindergarten.
“Our students start playing an instrument of their choice when they start school,” Samantha Coyne Donnell, Emerald Mountain’s Head of School said. “It benefits them so much in their exposure to arts, but it also builds confidence. And they really rise to the challenge of performing.”
That was obvious on Wednesday night as the students took the stage. Following The Moxie Strings lead, they played together with the duo and even improvised their own tunes. It was a treat for all — the students who got to play with professional musicians, their parents who got to watch them and even for the Moxie Strings themselves.
“Working with the students has been an honor,” Lynn said. “Their ability to engage during our clinics and explore the creativity that comes with playing an instrument was inspiring. It was a fun challenge to work not only with string students, but with band students as well. We have had an absolutely epic time in Steamboat.”
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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When Steamboat Springs Middle School band director James Knapp saw a production of “Matilda” performed on Broadway, he knew he wanted to bring a version of it to town.