If you walk into the Ferraro family’s house on a typical weekday, or weeknight, or weekend … or anytime, you’ll hear music – everywhere. Tuning up. Bows to the strings. Hands on the ivory keys. From the piano room to the bedrooms and all other corners of the house, pianists and violinists are always practicing.
A family of nine children from Jacksonville, Illinois, the Ferraros have performed music for years in a variety of venues. They play professionally for weddings, concerts, banquets and more. And they play for fun, in their living room, on their front porch and wherever else they have enough space to set up eight string musicians.
Where did their story begin? When they were still in grade school, their grandparents instilled in them a love for music by giving them their first music lessons. Today, the nine siblings range in age from 10-25. Over the years, a lot changes within a family, but for the Ferraros, one thing remains constant – music. Music together, that is. The roof of their house is always being raised by it.
Practice, practice and more practice … but music isn’t the only thing that raises the roof in the Ferraro house. There’s a chicken coop in the backyard where winged fowl crow a daily chorus. There’s a steady stream of music students coming for private lessons. And behind the piano and violin studios – there’s a domestic domain always humming with life – dishwashers, washing machines, an active kitchen and whatever else it takes to keep a family of 11 running. And oh, by the way, they drive a 15-passenger van everywhere they go. How else to squeeze in nine kids, plus a boatload of instruments?
“We always chuckle when people tell us how organized we look. Of course we look organized when we’re on lined up in our concert best, moving our bows in the same direction. But underneath the picture-perfect performances, there’s a lot of real life, too.”
“Sometimes we’re scarfing down breakfast while running to the practice room in our pajamas. During concert season, every day feels like a race – morning chores, school, more school, practice, then quick, get the house cleaned up and everything in its place before the first music students walk in the door … We have an uncanny ability to stash the vacuum cleaner just seconds before the front door opens.”
Despite the chaos, or sometimes, because of the chaos, “Music is a tool that helps us grow together,” shares Anna Ferraro. “But more than that, it’s an incredible gift from God to be able to play music as a family, and we want to use that gift to share joy and beauty with those around us.”
They’ll admit it’s not always easy, and it’s not always pretty. “There are days as a musician when practice sessions are exhausting, or you feel like you’re not getting anywhere … sometimes, tempers can get a little short – especially when deadlines are tight. But at the end of a concert, when we see the joy that the music brought to our audience, and especially the way that we can bring glory to God and point others to Him, it’s always worth the effort.”
And it is a lot of effort. Anna Ferraro continues, “Growing up, a lot of people asked us, ‘What if one of you doesn’t like music?’ Our answer is pretty simple. Our parents knew that music benefits children’s growth in character, academics and relationships. So, they encouraged us to stick with it, and we are grateful. It is a wonderful gift that we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.”
At the end of the day, the best part of being in a family of musicians is what they call the “togetherness factor.” Anna Ferraro shares, “My siblings are my favorite musicians. I wouldn’t trade the memories I have built with them for anything in the world.”
And so, as Christmas approaches, they’re busily practicing for their upcoming performances – sharing the joy of Jesus’ birth with as many audiences as they possibly can. But this year, their goal is to bring their music to places where they themselves can’t go by producing a professional film of one of their concerts.
Anna Ferraro explains, “We’ve been asked for this for years, from our family, friends and fans. And we get countless invitations to perform, but we can’t be everywhere during the Christmas season.”
So, with the help of a professional film crew from St. Louis, the Ferraro musicians are on a mission to produce a film of their concert. To get a copy for your enjoyment, visit their Kickstarter page before December 15: www.kickstarter.com/projects/2730735/ferraro-family-dvd-project.
And while you do that, for the Ferraro kids, it’s back to the practice room. They’ve got another gig, ergo another rehearsal … Tuning up. Bows to the strings. Hands on the ivory keys. What d’ya know, they’re at it again.
The Ferraro family will be live in concert at Faith Lutheran Church on December 11 at 2 p.m. (located at 1385 West Walnut St.). Admission is free for the one-hour concert. Please note: orders for DVDs will only be taken up until December 15, so be sure to reserve yours today! For more information, visit www.facebook.com/annaferraromusic.