Elevating the craft of musicianship

Playing the violin comes naturally to Ginny Fairchild of Franklin Pond Chamber Music. She learned to play the instrument at age three and comes from a family of musicians. She is also a violinist with the Atlanta Opera. Even so, Fairchild’s passion for her craft inspires her to offer young students at Franklin Pond something that transcends musicianship.

“For us, Franklin Pond’s music program is not just about teaching chamber music, which is an unbelievably rewarding experience,” said Fairchild. “It is about life skills, like how to receive constructive criticism, how to prepare your portion of the job and bring it to the group, and public speaking skills.”

Fairchild’s mother, Ronda Respess, started Franklin Pond in 2001.The Sandy Springs nonprofit offers coaching and master classes on string instruments to middle and high school students. Respess has been a violinist with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra since 1969 and calls on a host of notable names to coach or teach master classes, including Robert Spano, ASO music director; and Peter Oundijian, former violinist for the Tokyo String Quartet.

“The master class artists work musically to help kids understand how to express the emotional part of the music,” said Respess. “That’s [a learning] that kids don’t get enough of.”

Franklin Pond students participate in eight coaching sessions and two master classes. The current program hosts 37 students who are divided into small groups. They practice, rehearse and perform together. An upcoming concert that concludes the Fall into Spring School Year Program takes place May 5, at The Woodruff Arts Center.

Separately, Franklin Pond hosts its an annual student music competition, with musicians performing together in groups, May 25-26 in Spivey Hall at Clayton State University. Violist James Dunham, of the Axelrod Quartet in residence at the Smithsonian Institute, in Washington D.C., will select division winners. Cash prize awards include $1,000 and $800, for high school and middle school group winners, respectively.

“We really wanted students to give themselves a goal to feel proud of and say, ‘I did something myself. I wasn’t walked through it by a parent or a teacher,’” said Fairchild.

For more information, visit www.franklinpond.org

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