By Marion Filler
There were good vibes Saturday at the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship, where enthusiastic young violinists delighted parents and friends with a holiday concert to benefit Rhythms for Life, an after-school music program at the Morristown Neighborhood House.
Free lessons and instruments for the children are supplied by the Morris County branch of Links Inc., described by spokespersons Cheryl Outlaw and Dr. Lisa Gittins-Williams, as “an organization of like-minded women who are dedicated to community service.”
Rhythms for Life 2018 Holiday Concert, ‘Jingle Bells,’ video by Marion Filler for MorristownGreen.com:
Gittens-Williams explained that the idea for “Rhythms for Life” is patterned after El Sistema, the national music education program started in Venezuela in 1975.
“It makes for a stronger student, it teaches discipline, it teaches them that you can go from playing scales to playing a Mozart concerto.”
Students can start lessons as young as three.
“They begin playing by ear,” says Gittens-Williams. “Children learn to speak before they can read, so you can start them at an early age and the reading of music is incorporated as they go along. That’s the gift we are trying to give them.”
Rhythms for Life Holiday 2018 Holiday Concert, ‘What Child Is This?,’ video by Marion Filler for MorristownGreen.com:
Using the Suzuki method of instruction, teacher Edward Obermueller put the orchestra through its paces. The repertoire included a few Christmas carols, some folk songs, a bit of Bach, as well as solos, duets, and a septet by more advanced students from Edward’s Violin Studio in Morris Plains.
Outlaw concluded the program by acknowledging Obermueller’s contribution.
“The kids can’t wait to go to class, and I say that honestly. They line up before their time, they wait to get their violins tuned, and they sit quietly until we are ready to begin. And after an hour and a half, they ask ‘is it over already?'”
Rhythms for Life 2018 Holiday Concert, Edward’s Secret for Violin Playing, video by Marion Filler for MorristownGreen.com:
Links Inc. has 15,000 members in 288 chapters in the U.S. and abroad. The Morristown chapter has been in existence for 35 years and in addition to “Rhythms for Life,” has partnered with Dress for Success, Veterans organizations, assistance for the elderly, and most recently, the National Society of Black Engineers.
In support of the Chapter’s umbrella program (Rhythms for Life: Music Matters in Morris County), Services to Youth provides financial support via funding (transportation, meals, tickets) of culturally aligned programs for the violinists and their parents.
These include the Sphinx Virtuosi program at New York’s Carnegie Hall and Discovery Orchestra performances at Drew University.
In addition, there is physical support via co-monitoring of the violin classes and chaperoning of events.