At Epiphany School Cellist Shares Music and Encourages Students to Explore Own Gifts

Cellist Sebastian Baverstam speaks with Epiphany School Headmaster John Finley following a From the Top program at the school.

Cellist Sebastian Baverstam speaks with Epiphany School Headmaster following a From the Top program at the school.

On April 8th, 2009, 20-year-old  Sebastian Baverstam visited the Epiphany School in Dorchester, MA to lead a morning assembly for 6th-8th grade students. Sebastian, a cellist currently in his sophomore year at New England Conservatory, first appeared on From the Top at age 10 and continues to stay involved with From the Top through our Boston Crew, which involves alumni in leading music outreach programs in Massachusetts schools.

During the assembly, Sebastian showed the students all the different sounds the cello can make from singing like the human voice to strumming like a guitar. He played a wide range of music including a serene Bach prelude and the energetic and intensely physical Kodaly Sonata. He even performed one of his own compositions. The students were invited to explore their own imaginations and share any imagery that came to mind while listening.

One student said, “What I liked most in the program is that when he played the songs, I could picture in my mind what I could describe the music as.”

Another remarked about From the Top, ““I liked that children get to showcase their talents to the public.”

“It was a great broadening experience for all of us, especially since many students are not familiar with instrumental music. They learned more about how to listen to and appreciate music. They learned the thought-process of a musician and the practice and skill required to play a stringed instrument. The short and varied pieces, interspersed with commentary by the musician, were very valuable,” commented a teacher following the assembly.

The Epiphany School is an independent, tuition-free middle school for children of economically disadvantaged families from Boston neighborhoods. The school describes itself as, “an innovative learning community that affords structured support to help students thrive…we are a school that never gives up on a child.”

“It was great to feel like I was taking even a small part in what the school is trying to accomplish,” said Sebastian following the performance and demonstration. “It is amazing what John Finley (the headmaster) is doing there, and to feel like I helped out in some way is gratifying.”