A special music program at Vandora Springs Elementary School on Monday wasn’t your standard sit-down-and-listen affair.
Fourth- and fifth-graders got an earful of warm sounds from a flute and saxophone played by Marcus Anderson, but they also got to try their own hand at making music.
Some even got to perform with the professional musician, who has played alongside the likes of Prince and CeeLo Green and made Billboard’s Smooth Jazz Top-25 multiple times.
Twelve-year-old Jesse Olvera showed off his beatboxing skills, while Anderson laid down an improv solo on the sax.
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“I just started watching videos of people doing it online, and this guy at my church started doing it and taught me some,” Olvera said of beatboxing.
A group of chorus and drama students got to share a song they were working on for an upcoming performance, with Anderson chiming in.
Anderson’s self-named nonprofit focuses on providing children with access to quality instruments, providing scholarships and encouraging and mentoring young students through music.
“I wanted to find a way to give what I’ve learned through the years back to the next generation, because I remember being young and being influenced by the people who came to my school,” Anderson said. “I travel and I tour, but I felt like that was a void that needed to be filled when it came to music and connecting young people with it. They have to learn to express themselves through arts, whether it be dance, or singing, playing the instrument.”
Though Anderson has held music clinics for a couple years in schools where touring takes him, it was his first visit to the Garner school and the first of what he hopes will be more stops at other area schools. Tanya Taylor Dingle, the acting director of the Marcus Anderson Foundation, knew Vandora Springs Assistant Principal Kenya Moore-Kerr and was able to connect Anderson with the school.
Anderson was joined Monday by representatives from Microsoft, who provided computers equipped with music-making software to give the students in the three sessions a hands-on experience.
“They get to see what their idols or people they admire on television do, and then they actually can do it on their phones and on their tablets and on their computers,” said Anderson, a South Carolina native who now lives in Cary. “It’s basically an entryway into being a producer or songwriter.”
The software gave students the option of choosing different sounds and compiling them into a single track. Anderson called them up to the stage in groups to showcase their finished products.
“It was good,” Olvera said. “It got me to do more things with music and I really like the app. It teaches me more beats.”