Tell Me A Story: David
Age: 10
Program: Paterson Music Project
Years in Program: 3
Instrument: Viola
Fun Fact: David loves football! Each time he plays, he gets at least one touchdown and tackle.

A violist in the Paterson Music Project for the past three years, David is not shy about his skills as a musician. When asked what he thinks his own personal hashtag is, he confidently replied, “#imthebestviolaever.” David also made certain to detail his abilities as an athlete. “I’m a football player with a pro throw and catch,” David swelled, “each time I play I get at least one touchdown and tackle!” He is also proud of the work he has put in practicing viola. “My favorite memory is honors orchestra… because it was an honor for our parents to come and see us and see how many years we’ve been staying and playing.” He furthered, “Now they can see that we’re advanced!”

Tell Me A Story: Isabella
Age: 14
Program: New Jersey Youth Symphony
Years in Program: 2
Instrument: Flute & Piccolo

Isabella, 14, has been playing the flute for the past six years, two of them being with the New Jersey Youth Symphony. Having been in Junior Wind Ensemble and Flute Choir, Isabella is excited to be in Flute Choir again this year and continue playing the piccolo when needed. Isabella, the only musician in her family, does have one goal in mind when it comes to playing in NJYS. “I want to be in YS (Youth Symphony) when I’m a senior,” Isabella said about the organization’s highest orchestra.  When asked how she heard about NJYS, Isabella chuckled, “my doctor told me about NJYS. She knew that I liked to play the flute and suggested I join. I’m glad that I did!” Now that she has been in the organization for two years, Isabella is grateful for the experiences she has had and the friends she has made. When explaining her favorite memory with NJYS, a gift exchange game she played with Flute Choir during the holidays, Isabella clarified, “it was in that one moment I realized that I really found some great friends.”

Tell Me A Story: Arleth & Aaron
Ages: 8 & 9
Program: Paterson Music Program
Years in Program: 1 & 2
Instruments: Viola

Siblings Aaron (9) and Arleth (8) are two very cute peas in a pod. Often found laughing and joking with one another, Aaron and Arleth are both bright, talented young violists with the Paterson Music Project. Aaron, in the program for two years, excelled so quickly that he was able to skip a level entirely, while Arleth’s teachers call her a “rhythm master.” Aaron recalls why he wanted to join. “I was thinking I should join,” Aaron explained, “because I wanted to learn how to play instruments and I also saw the drums.” Arleth, finishing her first year, recounted a similar experience. “I saw people playing instruments,” she said, “and I thought I wanted to play.” Now that they have had the chance to play an instrument, Aaron explains, “playing music makes me feel astounded and amazed.” Arleth concurred, “Playing music makes me feel happy.” Aaron is not so shy about his musical ambitions. Currently attending Saturday program with PMP, which he described as “perfect,” Aaron hopes to be in the Paterson Youth Orchestra, playing with young musicians from across the city someday soon.

Tell Me A Story: Molly
Age: 11
Program: Performing Arts School
Instruments: Piano, Violin

11-year-old Molly has been playing music for nearly half her life. Now a 6th-grader, she started taking violin and piano lessons when she was in kindergarten and has progressed to playing in the Junior Strings ensemble at the New Jersey Youth Symphony. Not surprisingly, Molly comes from a musical family. Both her older sister Emily and her younger sister Laura play piano, and her mom plays piano and organ. One of Molly’s favorite things about playing music: “When the performance is over, and people are clapping, I feel like I’ll never stop smiling!”

Tell Me A Story: Akeira and Rihanna
Age: 10
Years in Program: 1
Instrument: Violin

Fun fact: Dream school is Harvard University and says, “Playing music makes me feel talented.”

Age: 10
Years in Program: 4
Instrument: Violin

Fun fact: “We get to perform in a lot of places like Carnegie Hall, at schools, and at the museum.”

Brothers and sisters are not the only pairings in the Paterson Music Project! Rihanna and Akeira, both 10-year-old violinists with PMP, are best friends that happen to be cousins!  Akeira, looking back on why she wanted to join PMP, recalls, “I always wanted to play an instrument and now I love playing my violin more than a billion!” Rihanna, now a part of PMP for the past 4 years, felt the same way. “I joined because I wanted to know how to hold and play an instrument. Now I really enjoy playing music.” Rihanna and Akeira both volunteer their time to mentor younger violin students in the program. They also dream about becoming professional violinists who travel the world. Having performed at local schools, the Paterson Museum, and even Carnegie Hall, it is clear that they are well on their way already!

Tell Me A Story: Andrew
Age: 13
Instrument: Percussion

Fun fact: Obsessed with cars and Doctor Who

Andrew, 13, is excited to be in the New Jersey Youth Symphony for the first time after completing orchestral camp this past summer. When asked about his experiences playing percussion with NJYS, Andrew had a lot to say! “It has been amazing because the staff is friendly, you get to learn new stuff, they have excellent food for you come snack time,” Andrew laughed, “ there’s also different types of music; you are not just doing orchestra. There’s also chamber which is like a little group of what you play, wind ensemble, or symphony if you’re a string player, and there’s chorus which is pretty fun, so you get a lot of different experiences with just this one program, which I think is really incredible.” Now that Andrew is a part of NJYS, he admits that he plans to do it for a long time. “I want to become a better player so I can spread my wings and fly,” Andrew smiled. And while becoming a better player is certainly a perk of the program, Andrew’s favorite part so far has been meeting all the new people, something he will continue to do for years to come!

Tell Me A Story: Angely
Age: 8
Years in Program: 3
Instrument: Violin, also plays piano

Instrument of Choice: Harp because it has a piano sound
Favorite Snack: Chocolate Chips
Personal Hashtag: #nevergiveup

Angely, 8, may be young but she is sure of what she wants. “I wanted to join PMP,” Angely said, “because ever since I was a little girl I always wanted to play different types of instruments because I love them.”  A violinist with the Paterson Music Project for the last three years, Angely readily admits she is “really happy that I’m in PMP.” A hard worker with an incredibly sweet disposition, Angely believes her own personal hashtag is “#nevergiveup.” There’s no doubt Angely will continue to expand her horizons and explore new instruments with PMP, but, for now, she’s delighted to simply be part of the PMP family.

Tell Me A Story: Ariel
Age: 7
Years in Program: 1
Instrument: Percussion and Cello
Fun fact: Want to be a doctor and a musician when he grows up

Ariel, 7, knew that he wanted to play percussion the moment he saw other Paterson Music Project (PMP) students
playing. Mesia Austin, PS1 site coordinator, recalled some of her first interactions with Ariel. “He used to draw me all of these pictures of instruments to try to get himself into PMP,” Mesia laughed, “now he is the youngest member of our drum program.” A year later, Ariel is thriving as a percussionist and cellist with PMP. “I love PMP a lot,” Ariel said. When asked about how he feels about music more generally, Ariel smiled, “music makes me feel happy. I like the sound and I like to play a lot.” Ariel is not the only one either; his one-year-old sister likes to play too. “I play with my sister when I practice at home,” he laughed, “she likes to take the drum stick away from me.”  We look forward to her joining the PMP family in just six short years!

Tell Me A Story: Rahul

Tell Me A Story: Cameron
Age: 14
Years in Program: 2
Instrument: Tuba

Fun fact: Doesn’t like hashtags, but if he had to choose one for himself it would be #likeplayingtuba

Cameron, 14, has played the tuba for 3 years. Now in his second year with New Jersey Youth Symphony and first year as a member of Philharmonia, Cameron explained that the tuba was not his first instrument. “I played the French horn but was really bad,” Cameron laughed, “that’s when I decided to switch to tuba.” While the tuba is rather large, Cameron enjoys playing it a lot. In fact, his personal hashtag is “#likeplayingtuba.” Cameron’s experiences with NJYS and its conductors have also been notable. “Bryan is funny and like eight feet tall,” Cameron said about his Junior Wind Ensemble conductor. “He’s also very nice and 98% of the time he’s in a good mood and trying to make us laugh.” While Cameron is excited to be in Philharmonia this year, he is clear about what his ultimate goal is: going to Vienna with the Youth Symphony.

Tell Me A Story: Camily
Age: 8
Years in Program: 2
Instrument: Violin

Camily, 8, did not want to join the Paterson Music Project or play violin at first, but two years later, she is glad that she did. “I’m happy I joined PMP,” Camily said, “because I wanted to meet everyone and now I have.” Now that she has made herself at home in the program, Camily is the first to admit that “playing music makes me really happy.” She has also made many friends thanks to her sweet disposition and propensity to help in any way that she can. With her “fun to be around” attitude, we are all glad that she took the plunge and decided to join PMP!

Tell Me A Story: Daniel
Age: 10
Years in Program: 3
Instrument: Viola

Fun Fact: Really likes candy, especially sour patch kids!
Personal Hashtag: #musicrocks

Do you recognize Daniel, 10? If so, you may have seen him as an extra in the Amazon original show Mozart in the Jungle as a very convincing music student last season! A Paterson Music Project (PMP) student and violist for the last three years, he played the part well! Daniel like most kids his age enjoys having fun, but his PMP teachers are very impressed  with his hard work and good behavior. Daniel returns the teachers’ admiration with kind words of his own. When asked who his favorite teacher is, Daniel said, “Miss Shanna, because she plays the viola too and she’s inspirational because she plays many instruments.”  Now aspiring to play multiple instruments, Daniel remembers when he first picked up his viola, the first time he had ever held an instrument. Daniel declared, “My life changed when I joined PMP… I like music now more than ever!”