Samuel Thomas placed first at the U.S. National Accordion Competition, but a few years ago, he suffered muscle injuries. "My mom took me to a bunch of doctors who all wanted to cut me up," Samuel recalls. Instead, she enrolled him in break dancing classes, and the pain went away. Samuel plays "Chopin's Nightmare" by Joe Spano.
Eleven-year-old Mindy Chen's very first violin was an empty cereal box attached to a ruler. Then, at age four she started Suzuki lessons and two years later she won her first violin competition. Mindy plays "Romanza Andalusa" by Pablo de Sarasate.
Marvin Brown wanted to play the double bass. "I liked it because it was big and kind of macho," Marvin recalls. But his bus driver wouldn't allow such a large instrument on board. So Marvin downsized one step smaller to the cello. He plays "Salut d'Amour" by Edward Elgar.
As a youngster, pianist Clare Yeo heard Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" in the movie Fantasia 2000. "I thought to myself, 'I'm going to play that one day!'" A native of Singapore, Clare studies piano through the Juilliard School's Pre-College Division. She plays music from Romeo & Juliet by Prokofiev.
Five friends in the pre-college division at the Juilliard School in New York recently formed the Juilliard Piano Quintet. One of their first projects was to tackle the well-known Quintet in A major by Dvorak. "We don't want to make it boring by just banging it out," says violinist Betty Zhou. "I think Dvorak was trying to show that music shouldn't be confined," adds violist Daniel Hedinger. The Quintet plays Dvorak's opening movement.