Inspiring Children Through Language Of Music

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Elementary school children and a few middle schoolers filled the auditorium to listen to the high-energy, genre-busting music of three young men from Philadelphia -- Time for Three.

"Can we all agree that music is a way to communicate?" violinist Nick Kendall asked his audience after the notes of "Cotton Eyed Joe" faded.

"Yes," the children shouted back.

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Then Kendall, violinist Zach DePue and bass player Ranaan Meyer performed a gypsy melody.

Time for Three blends jazz, classical, bluegrass and American and Eastern European folk music into their own way of communicating.

Next, DePue asked the audience to create a picture of a movie from the solo he played.

"It sounded like you lost someone and then found them again," was one middle school girl's reaction to the piece.

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Time for Three take Rim Country elementary school students on an exploration of musical styles -- jazz, bluegrass, classical, gypsy and rock ‘n' roll.

"It was sad," said an elementary boy.

"It was old-fashioned," another elementary boy said.

The piece, titled "Ashokan Farewell," was written by Jay Unger, an American folk musician at the end of a music festival he would not attend again.

"It proves the point that music can communicate without words," DePue said.

"Time for Three started doing outreaches to students and seniors in care centers after the first gig," Meyer said. "If you count them all up since the beginning, there'd be at least 200 (shows). It's just really important to us, first off, to spread our love of music."

The underlying message to children and teens is, "We're young, too. This is possible," Meyer said. "If we can pursue our dreams, others can work hard and pursue their dreams, too."

"How did you learn to play so fast?" one boy asked.

"We learned to play fast by playing really slow first," DePue said.

"You do not have to come from a musical family to be a musician," he told the young audience.

Kendall was 15 when music went from "something I just did" to a solo with a major symphony orchestra and the realization that "I can actually make music my career."

By then, he had been playing the violin for 12 years.

At age 4, Meyer played his first instrument, the piano. At age 9, he took up the cello, but he would be 11 years old before he was big enough to hold a bass.

At 15, he discovered jazz.

"That's when I finally really got into music," he said.

Composition is a way they keep their sound new and fresh.

"We are all classically trained but we kind of create our music more like a garage band," Meyer said. The arrangement process is collective. "Whoever brings a piece to the table first gives their concept, then after that, it is released into the wild for the three of us to beat each other up and sometimes even bite each other when it gets rough.

"It starts out as a very tedious process as we build something from nothing, but as we begin to see the light by the third day, it makes sense."

The unique ensemble that has been playing gigs across the country has big dreams.

One long-term goal is to create a music label that allows artists to have creative control.

Listen to Time for Three on the Web at www.payson.com or visit www.timeforthree.com.

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