John Ringor, Joshua Jones, and Fellow PSG Members Show Chicago Youth that Rhythm is It!

Earlier this year, 16-year-old John Ringor (Show #202 and #206 ) and 17-year-old Joshua Jones (TV Episode 201, Show #171 and  #206), both Chicago percussionists and Jack Kent Cooke Young Artist Award recipients, gave a performance and demonstration for children and their families at the Chicago Symphony Center. They were joined by eight of their colleagues from the Percussion Scholarship Group (PSG), a program affiliated with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (an ensemble of which appeared on From the Top’s Show #206), that provides free lessons and percussion instruments to students from the Chicago area – an inspiring example of arts leadership itself!

John, Josh, and members of the Percussion Scholarship Group at the Chicago Symphony Center

Their concert was part of the CSO’s Caminos a la Musica: a program that provides lower-income families the opportunity to see and experience classical music in a professional setting.

John Ringor by From the Top, Inc..(We) chose to perform for kids because they are the people of the future; they will be the ones to shape the future of music. These people need to realize just how important music is so that they can help promote and support it.” – John

Joshua Jones by From the Top, Inc..

“(We) wanted to spread knowledge about percussion and the PSG, and also I wanted to incorporate members of the group in this performance. Kind of like a family affair.” -Josh

We asked John and Josh to share more about their project:

John, Josh, and the PSG performing at the Chicago Symphony Center

FTT: What was the experience like for you? Did you have a favorite moment?

Josh: I had fun performing for the children, and their reaction was priceless. As loud as we were, I was expecting them to cover their ears, but the adults were the only ones with their ears covered.

John: Perhaps my favorite moment of the whole performance was seeing how happy all the kids were. The looks on their faces when we started things off with a bang and when I was doing all sorts of stick tricks in a solo were so gratifying. They looked like they really enjoyed our performance and had fun and a genuine interest in our music. That feeling of appreciation I got from them was the best part of this whole experience.

FTT: What do you think the audience took away from the event?

John: I think that they developed a new interest and appreciation for percussion and music that is not normally heard on the radio or is mainstream. They really seemed interested in the instruments and music we played so I think that one day they too will want to play an instrument.

Josh: Probably the point that was received by the audience was that percussion is a fun instrument to play, and it takes hard work to achieve a high level on any instrument that they may decide to take up, or anything they decide to do in life.

FTT: What did you learn from the experience?

Josh: I experienced how the sound was much bigger in a smaller room, so we had to play softer in order to not over power and frighten the children. It was kind of funny actually.

John: I learned that organizing such an event is no easy task. At times it was difficult getting everyone together and having rehearsals, but we eventually worked things out. Mostly I learned to just have fun. When I have fun then everyone else senses that and tries to have fun as well. By enjoying myself and keeping a positive attitude the performance was wonderful and the kids had a great time.

FTT: Do you think this type of experience can help your development as a musician? How?

John: It’s taught me the value of planning, organization, teamwork, and showmanship. I learned that just like in an orchestra or in an ensemble, teamwork and communication was essential both for playing musically together as well as running the show.

Josh: Instead of regurgitating music that we memorize, connecting with the audience can ease some of the nerves we may have as musicians when we perform and it tells us even more what the audience wants out of a concert.

FTT: What advice would you give other musicians interested in doing a similar project?

Josh: Don’t be afraid to try new things as you go. Always have a set goal, but if there is room for improvisation, take full advantage of it.

John: Just have fun with it. If the audience sees you having fun then they will too and that’s the secret to success.