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An orchestra of all ages and schools

by Maggie O'Neill
Appeal Staff Writer
Kevin Clifford/Nevada Appeal Third-grader Nadia Tung, 8 , concentrates as she plays "Salty Dog" during violin practice at Seeliger Elementary School last week. The Strings in Schools after-school program will perform its first concert Thursday.
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Twelve-year-old Jace Carlson is fine-tuning his skills in many after-school activities – basketball, baseball, football and soccer – as well as a string instrument he calls “a big violin.”

It’s a cello, and last week he and about 70 students in the Carson City Symphony-sponsored Strings in the Schools program practiced pieces like “Hot Cross Buns,” “London Bridges” and “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” that they will play at Thursday’s show – their first.

After school lets out, students from all over the district, including home-schooled children and those in private schools, have come to Seeliger Elementary School to be taught violin under the direction of teacher Sue Kitts.

Jace, who has been playing the cello for several years, brings his instrument and practices as part of the orchestra.

The program is free, thanks to funding from various organizations, but parents must find a way to pay for instrumental rental.

For Jace, playing his cello in the orchestra is a way to wind down and relax, he said. He doesn’t mind the practice and is looking forward to the concert, where he will play harmony in some pieces and is accompanied by the violins in many others.

“I’m excited because I like performing,” said Jace, dressed in athletic clothes and wearing a baseball cap. “It’s rewarding.”

Backpacks and violin cases were strewn about the multi-purpose room at Seeliger. Nearly a dozen parents sat in metal chairs as their children practiced. They clapped for piece after piece.

Pamela Bass sat watching the group, which included her second-grade son Bryce. She said he struggled with the violin at first.

“Every lesson he would come home more excited and more full of energy,” she said. “He enjoys it now.”

She considers the violin a classy instrument, and is glad her son has the opportunity to learn.

“I want him to take this with him when he grows up,” she said.

Support for Strings in the Schools also comes from the Nevada Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, the Sierra Philharmonic League and the Carson City Music Club.

“I think Sue is doing a great job with these kids,” said Elinor Bugli, a violinist with the Carson City Symphony, who listened to rehearsals last week. “With just a very few lessons, they’re learning discipline, they’re learning to listen, they’re playing in time. They’ve made great strides in a little amount of time.”

Seating is first-come first-served at Thursday’s performance. There is no charge. The Seeliger Elementary School band also will perform.

— Contact reporter Maggie O’Neill at moneill@nevadaappeal.com or 881-1219.

If you go

WHAT: Strings in the Schools first concert

WHEN: 6:15 p.m. Thursday

WHERE: Multi-purpose room of Seeliger Elementary School, 2800 S. Saliman Road

CALL: Sue Kitts at 267-6924

OTHER: The Seeliger Band, directed by Mary Law, will also perform