Meet Our Students
Terronn, violinist , KIPP Believe Primary
by Gabrielle Fischler
I met Terronn last September when he joined my after school string class at KIPP Believe Primary. Though he has never played violin before, he has already learned many songs. He recently added Mardi Gras Mambo to the list and it has quickly become his favorite tune so far.
Terronn enjoys math and science, so it makes sense that he wants to become an engineer. Yet, he is a Renaissance Man, and also loves karate, cooking, building things, reading, watching Youtube, and playing outside. The list goes on and on! He told me that his favorite memory is from when he went to Disney World. However, at home with his family is his favorite place to be. There, Terronn spends time with his brother Terrell and sister Brynn.
Terronn’s favorite musical artists include producer DJ Khaled, hip-hop-violinist Brian King Joseph. Other influential figures in Terron’s life include his teachers, Albert Einstein and his Mother and Grandmother. Terronn loves being in Make Music NOLA because he gets to play music with his friends. I love having Terron in my class becuase he is inspired most by helping other people.
Mychal-Mali, Violist, NORDC/Gernon Brown Rec Center
by Jordan Peota
It’s a bright and crisp Saturday morning, and inside the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, twelve young string players are set to play for an audience of friends, family and museum goers. They have prepared well for the concert and each stands confidently. Yet, one student stands out. Thirteen-year-old Mychal-Mali McCaskill has the calm and poise of a player twice her age. Her eyes are laser focused and her stance is straight and still. And as the young violist plays a duet of J.S. Bach’s Minuet No. 1 it’s obvious that nothing phases her. She nails every note and brings the work to life.
Although Mali started with Make Music NOLA only last year, she has quickly become a leader at Make Music NOLA’s Gernon Brown site. And she manages that while keeping up a busy schedule that includes school work, tennis and weekend volunteering. (In her spare time, she likes to draw, read and make up her own stories.)
Originally a violinist, Mali was drawn to the viola by its low tone. The viola typically plays a supportive role in the orchestra, reinforcing and deepening the melodies played by the violins. Much like the viola, Mali herself often plays a supporting role in her family. As the eldest of three—she has two younger siblings, Louis and Ocoee, also Make Music NOLA students—she often plays the crucial part of babysitter. Yet, even more important is her function as a role model. “I have to be careful with what I do, when my siblings are in my shadow,” she says.
In about a year, Mali will be deciding where she would like to go to high school. Certainly a daunting task for any middle-schooler. Yet when asked if she has thought about that, she responds with characteristic confidence and clarity: “At this point I am considering three schools—Sci High, Ben Franklin or St Mary’s,” she says.
The school Mali chooses will be extremely lucky to have such a bright and balanced musician joining their ranks. For she’s already shown that whether playing a concert, making difficult choices or assuming the pressures of being an older sister, this unflappable 7th grader can handle any challenge.
Louis, Violinist, McDonough 42
by Jordan Peota
When I asked Louis, a second grader at McDonogh 42 Elementary, if he had some words to live by, he responded without missing a beat, “Do your best and you may succeed in life.” Clearly this seven year old already knows quite a bit about how to live.
He follows his own advice when it comes to athletics—he likes to run track and play basketball, baseball and football—and also with music. This year, Louis and eleven of his classmates have begun taking violin lessons from veteran Make Music NOLA teacher, Matt Rhody.
Louis has taken to the new instrument. His face lights up as he tells me how the class has been working on playing an A scale in a Mississippi River rhythm pattern. When I asked Louis what his favorite thing about being in violin class is, he replied, “It is special to me because I get to learn a new instrument.”
Louis says that when he gets older he would like to play in the NBA or be a musician. Whatever path he embarks on, he’s sure to be successful. As he says, he already knows the way.