Special to the Source Newspaper – July 2020
Scattered across the lawn of the Ferraro home, families sit in groups on camping chairs and picnic blankets. Cars fill the driveway, people chat, and music students go in the front door of the house.
Inside, twenty middle school to high school- aged students hold music books and chat in the living room of the house. This year, Ferraro Music Studios’ spring recital is outside. COVID-19 changed every normal part of life this spring, including musical events.
Every other recital has been in a church or hall with stage lights and a close audience. Today, the stage is the carpeted music room in the Ferraro home. One student, Jenna Kesselring, said, “It felt more like a personal performance because you are in a place that you know rather than some open hall that you’ve never been in before.”
Kesselring had learned a piece specifically for the recital. Expecting it to get canceled, she thought, “well, that’s okay, it was still a fun piece to learn.” But unlike most sports events, schools and competitions, the recital still happened. Kesselring said, “The fact that I still got to perform it and got to see all of Anna’s (Ferraro) other students perform, it was really fun and I’m glad I got to still have it.”
Students stand in the living room, Anna and Bethany Ferraro walk in smiling, both are wearing polka-dotted dresses in 1950s style. They gather the students and explain how to bow. Leading the students, they rehearse a bow together. Then, Anna prays. Elena Ferraro walks to the music room, sitting down at the piano, she plays the first notes of the national anthem. Parents, children, and grandparents seated on the front lawn look towards the open front windows, where the music drifts out. They stand, placing their hands over their hearts. An American flag waves back and forth from a post on the porch.
Inside, students listen to the familiar notes. When Elena Ferraro finishes, she stands up from the piano, the students inside start clapping. Then, opening the front door, she steps out onto the porch and bows to the clapping audience.
Students are seated on the living room floor, couches and lining the staircase with books and programs in hand waiting for their turn to perform. Running their fingers down the half-page cream program, they count how many songs until they play. “A lot of the students, since they were inside, still got to talk to some extent while they were waiting for their turn.” Cade Emerick said. Violin cases sit open on couches and the dining room benches. One by one, students leave their seats and go to the piano or take their violin to the music room. After each student plays, they are applauded inside by fellow students, stepping out on the front porch and bow to the front yard audience. “I could tell that everyone was happy to be out and performing again,” Kesselring added.
Although students were glad to be performing again, they struggled to overcome the separation from the audience. Emerick said, “It felt like that we couldn’t one hundred percent connect with the audience, but we still worked in between to get the connection that we needed.” He added, “You know the feeling that each piece gives, even though you’re not right there.”
After the last piece was played, all the students got in one line on the front porch, giving a final group bow to the audience. Benjamin Ferraro turns on songs from a 1950s playlist as students and parents chat in groups in the front yard. In front of the garage, tables are covered with black and white checkered cloths. The Ferraro kids bring out trays of hot dogs, buns, condiments, toppings and gallon jars of lemonade. They stand behind the table as students come through the food line, talking and laughing. Three Ferraro kids serve hot dogs and toppings while wearing bus boy hats. Behind them on the garage door, are signs advertising root beer, Cracker Jack and classic cars.
Not every student dressed in the 1950s theme, but two of the boys are wearing cuffed blue jeans with white t-shirts and slicked hair. Other girl students wear polka dot or checkered skirts.
Students and parents mingle on the green lawn, eating while “Hello Mary Lou” plays on speakers. As the meal comes to an end, students and parents continue to visit while they eat freshly popped kettle corn. “It felt really relaxed because of the atmosphere there, everyone was just happy to be there because it had been a while, it just felt really friendly,” Kesselring added.
For one evening, they were in a different era. The simple pleasures of family, friends and music took the place of a world full of trouble. The sun set, casting shadows on the lawn where families picked up blankets and folded up camping chairs. “The scenery outside to give it that [1950s] theme fit it beautifully. You felt like you were in that moment when it happened in the past.” Emerick added, “For all that we are in right now, it gives you a nice feeling that we should be able to get out of this.”