Stafford Chamber Orchestra members show off their skills
Eight-year-old Andre Auduong has no trouble explaining why he loves playing the cello.
"I like to show off," the Lake Oswego boy says with a grin.
Andre and his twin sister, Dannika Auduong, were among 10 students who showed off their skills recently during a Stafford Chamber Orchestra's spring concert at Wilsonville Public Library. The program, open to students from roughly age 8-18 — depending on skill level — helps young violinists, violists and cellists hone their skills and learn to play in a group.
The group launched in September 2015 and is currently made up of students from Wilsonville, West Linn, Lake Oswego, Sherwood and Newberg. West Linn violist Maren Knopp leads the program, in addition to teaching for the Lake Oswego School District's Elementary Strings and Orchestra program and teaching private viola and violin lessons.
"I think it's important for kids to play together, because that's where they find a lot of motivation," Knopp says. "It's so much more fun to be part of a team and make something that's bigger than just the one line."
The group meets for weekly afterschool practices at Stafford Academy, 21065 S.W. Stafford Road in Tualatin, and has performed at the Oregon Symphony Prelude series, West Linn Public Library and Doernbecher Children's Hospital, in addition to Wilsonville Public Library.
In addition to the many benefits of learning to play an instrument — such as increasing IQ and cognitive skills — Knopp says it's simply something kids can enjoy.
"Music is a beautiful part of the human experience," she says.
For Andre and Dannika, who live in Lake Oswego, being part of the orchestra for the past two seasons has helped them learn new songs and make friends with other student musicians. The siblings both play cello — Dannika started about four years ago, and Andre picked the instrument up soon after.
"It's unique — not many people play it," Dannika says of the cello. She says she might like to be a musician when she grows up, and Andre says he'd like to play for orchestras and in concerts.
Their dad, Hao Auduong, says music gives his kids an alternative to watching TV at home.
"It's good for the kids to know music," he says. "It also helps their brain."
The orchestra is currently accepting registrations for its 2017-2018 season.