Frankie Packard, 13, began playing the cello with Community MusicWorks seven years ago. His brother August, a violist, and sister Daisy, also a cellist, are CMW alumni. An eighth grader at Times2 STEM Academy, Frankie enjoys math, has a dog named Noodle and likes to play fiddle tunes. He plans to audition for Phase 2. Look for the sparkly shreds of a wide green ribbon he tied on his cello for a St. Patrick’s day concert four years ago. He hopes they will still be there for his graduation performance in another four years.
I was only 6 when I started at CMW and I didn’t know too much about musicianship back then. But I was excited, because I did sometimes listen to Augie play and I thought that it was really awesome just the way he played.
Probably one of the biggest struggles of being a cello student, for me, is just practicing. I have to make sure that I don’t let myself forget. What I try to do is set goals for myself. I’ll say, “I want to practice five hours this week.” So then I’ll try and get that and if I don’t I’ll scold myself a little bit. I want to always get better. I always want to get a nicer sound, be more in tune.
I liked working on “Humoresques” (Dvorak) a lot. I love how you go from the really high parts to the low parts and the changes in between. I did definitely spend time trying to get the right emotions. Like for the beginning, I practiced a lot to get a light and fluffy feeling.
I bet if I wasn’t with CMW I probably wouldn’t care at all for classical music. A lot of times you think, “Classical music, oh, it’s old, just super out of style and not relevant anymore.” But being with CMW, having so much exposure to classical music and seeing just how good it is, has definitely changed my mind. If I wasn’t at CMW I probably wouldn’t be a musician at all.
I understood–maybe not when I first started out but later–I understood how good of an opportunity CMW was. I’m able to play an expensive instrument and the lessons that would be so expensive are free. I do think that that’s a big, big chance. I want to take advantage of that.
I do like the whole community aspect of the program, how it focuses on that a lot. Music helps bring people together. A lot of the times you’ll go to a summer camp or something, you’ll meet people, but then eventually you’ll stop talking to them. With CMW, it’s different. I think the teachers go a little bit further, too. If you see them outside of CMW you’re still able to talk to them. They’ll even give you a ride somewhere.
It’s important to get other perspectives. If you only ever talk to the person sitting next to you on the couch and watch Netflix with, you’re not going to understand anything else that’s going on. But if you go out and you talk to other people from different backgrounds, you’ll get different perspectives so you’ll be able to make better informed decisions. I know they do a lot of talking about social justice at the Friday (Phase 2) meetings and I do think that is very important. Maybe someone can come up with a great new idea that could change the world.
Once you graduate, you’ve been playing for however long. I mean, you’re probably not going to want to give up that skill so fast. And so going back to where you learned it makes sense. You’re still part of CMW even when you aren’t there any more. You leave, they pull you back. It just goes to show how powerful it is. A big part is the atmosphere that people create. Being nice definitely helps people keep coming. And it’s always nice to have someone watching out for you. I mean, two hands are better than one, you know?