All summer long, more than 20 area string students have been meeting on Friday mornings at Fort Hays State University's Malloy Hall to learn non-classical music and renaissance dances. Their final community performance will be from 7 to 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 24, at 1010 Main Street as a part of the Hays Art Council’s Gallery Walk.
The Western Kansas String Academy is a Saturday morning community music institute sponsored by the FHSU Music Department. It works with young string players, from beginner to advanced, to teach, challenge, improve, motivate and inspire them on their chosen instruments.
"We've had a lot of fun exploring non-classical music, from fiddling tunes like 'Old Joe Clark' to rock songs like 'Crazy Train,' " said Shelly Wolf, a recent FHSU graduate and coordinator of Alternative Strings Summer Jam. "The kids especially enjoy playing on electric instruments, along with the guitars and drum set -- it's like being part of a real band."
Yamaha Strings loaned the program an electric quintet -- two violins, a viola, a cello and a bass -- for students to experiment with during the summer. In addition, Midwest Music provided amplifiers to complete the transformation from classical to alternative strings.
The Aug. 24 performance at the Gallery Walk will also function as a dress rehearsal for about 15 of the string students, who will travel to Kansas City for the Renaissance Festival on Sept. 1.
Costumed and in character, the students will be part of the festival's cast for the day, performing four short concerts at the fair and milling around the grounds as residents. The group, which has named itself "Ye Olde Gut-Scrapers," will be joined by recorders (played by parent volunteers Tim and Melanie Folkerts), mandolin (played by Shawn Demuth, Hays senior) and hand percussion.
Wolf was assisted by FHSU music majors Demuth, Jay Miller, Salina senior, and Jordan Bollig, Schoenchen sophomore, in running weekly rehearsals for the summer jam sessions. The program, organized by the String Academy, was sponsored by Yamaha Strings, Midwest Music, Shar Music and the Midwest Energy Community Foundation.
The academy sponsors pre-orchestra classes, two different string orchestras, one full orchestra, two levels of group guitar class, private lessons, music appreciation classes, a pre-school music class, community performances, solo opportunities, tours and socials. WKSA instructors are a combination of FHSU music faculty, FHSU music majors and community musicians under the guidance of FHSU music faculty.
For more information about Friday’s performance or the String Academy, contact Cathy Drabkin, WKSA executive director, at 785-623-4187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.