Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) fifth-grade musicians jammed Saturday during an Instant Concert at St. Charles High School. Before taking the stage, band and orchestra students in elementary school learned the music they would perform within hours from CCPS music teachers and high school students who served as mentors.

For some of the high school students, it was a return to a familiar sight. “I have been doing Instant Concerts for a while,” Michaela Raqueno, a senior at North Point High School, said. “I was in one in elementary school, and in middle school I volunteered to be a mentor.”

Raqueno has been playing the violin since fifth grade after her parents urged her to select an instrument to learn. She was adamant it wasn’t going to be the violin. “My two older sisters were in orchestra, and they played the violin. At first, I was very determined not to be like them,” she said. Over time her feelings changed. “I went to so many of their concerts and was like, yeah. The violin is the coolest instrument,” she said.  

Seeing younger students starting their instrument-playing journey brings back memories for the older students. “When I see these kids, I see myself,” Christine Baker, a North Point senior and violin player, said.

The Instant Concert event has been held for at least a decade, estimated North Point’s instrumental music teacher David Monk. At Saturday’s event, 150 elementary school students signed up and were taught by 12 CCPS teachers and 14 high school mentors, Andrew Blumhardt, CCPS content specialist for fine and performing arts, said.

“It gives them another performing experience,” he said of the younger students. “Many of the students have done a winter concert, some haven’t. So, for some of the kids this is their first performing opportunity.”

The Instant Concert concludes with a short performance for parents. It’s one the students look forward to all day. “I want to show people that I can play violin,” Hannah Anne Milan, a William B. Wade Elementary School fifth grader, said.

Fifth grader Laila Morris is a classmate of Milan’s at Wade. She was inspired to learn to play the flute from a couple of different sources. “I saw a lot of fifth graders in the hallways that were in band, and I just wanted to try it out. And another reason I wanted to play is because my mom played,” Morris said. “It feels good to play. I don’t know why. It just feels good.”

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