Acclaimed composer and performer Daniel Bernard Roumain claps out a musical series with Heritage Christian School students Wednesday as part of his visit to the class. Roumain visited several Northwest Colorado schools this week for the second time as part of the Strings Music Festival School Days program. The New York-based performer will return in May for a performance that will culminate the two-year Strings program.

Photo by John F. Russell

Acclaimed composer and performer Daniel Bernard Roumain claps out a musical series with Heritage Christian School students Wednesday as part of his visit to the class. Roumain visited several Northwest Colorado schools this week for the second time as part of the Strings Music Festival School Days program. The New York-based performer will return in May for a performance that will culminate the two-year Strings program.

Strings School Days returns to Steamboat, Moffat County schools

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Kindergartner Robyn Burke plays notes on the piano while another student plays notes on a violin during a presentation by acclaimed composer and performer Daniel Bernard Roumain at Heritage Christian School on Wednesday afternoon.

— At the top row of the Heritage Christian School music room, fifth- and sixth–graders towered over the first- and second-graders below them, and the kindergartners were squirming happily on the bottom row.

But when there was music, which they either listened to or made with their own voices and hands, Daniel Bernard Roumain told them age made no difference.

“That doesn’t matter when you’re making music,” he said. “All that matters is the sound.”

During the school’s hourlong choir workshop with the New York-based composer and violinist, a 5-year-old played a duet with an 11-year-old on instruments they’d never touched. The students learned to clap an intricate rhythm in unison, and they performed a song, “Children, Go Where I Send Thee,” while Roumain improvised along with them. There was a Scooby-Doo theme song and laughs, bows and a standing ovation at the end.

After the workshop, which was a part of the Strings Music Festival School Days program, the students excitedly filtered out into the hallway while talking about how they couldn’t wait to play a piano or pick up a violin for the first time.

But one student, 6-year-old Braden Jenrich, said he doesn’t want to be a musician. He just loves to listen to music.

“When him and Mrs. Houston played together, I almost cried,” he said earnestly.

There was a lot of emotion visible in the room among the young children still learning how to contain their excitement, wistfulness and even exhaustion.

“There’s a lot of empathy going on with these kids,” said Heritage Christian School music teacher Christel Houston, who also had the chance to duet with Roumain. “Sometimes, they get very affected by music.”

Roumain, known as DBR in his professional role, returned to Steamboat Springs this week for a whirlwind three-day trip filled with workshops at Steamboat Springs and Moffat County schools.

At the workshops with older students, he delved into several pieces of music he wrote entitled “Hip-hop Studies & Etudes,” a series of 24 pieces that will be performed at the Strings School Days final performance when he returns in May, culminating the two-year cycle of the program.

But after the workshop, he asked Houston whether the young children would like to sing one of the Etudes at the concert.

“For me, it’s a different sound, a different approach,” he said about working with the younger students. “You’re discovering side by side with them.”

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com

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