Earlier this month, Music in Our Schools Month was off to a good start, as the Junior-Senior High School welcomed world famous electric violinist Mark Wood.
Wood, who is best known for his band the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, is the inventor of the electric violin and has worked with numerous artists including Kanye West and Paul McCartney. He now dedicates his life to teaching creativity, expression and musicianship to orchestras throughout the world through his program, Electrify Your Strings.
East Rockaway was very lucky to have him work with students thanks to a generous grant from the ER Ed Foundation. The first workshop of the day was dedicated to the district’s elementary and junior high school orchestras. Students in seventh and eighth grade performed on stage, with fifth and sixth graders cheering in the audience. Wood engaged both groups on the importance of incorporating movement into their playing and connect with the audience. Performers played through Wood's original compositions as he guided them and instructed to add a "rock and roll" vibe to bring the music to life. The workshop ended in an epic rock performance from Wood himself, leaving students and teachers dancing in the aisles.
In the section workshop, Wood mentored the high school orchestra, elevating their excitement for music and their performance abilities by getting students to rely less on their music stands and begin to "feel" the music. This resulted in some larger than life performances from students.
Wood also shared some of his experiences with the students during a question and answer session and discussed what led him to being the world's first electric violinist, and what inspires him to share music with others.
Fine Arts Chairperson Peter Ceglio said, “East Rockaway is very grateful for the opportunity to have Mark Wood work with the district’s orchestra program. His knowledge, passion, and excitement for music was inspiring, leaving a lasting impression on our students and faculty alike.”