Since 1997 a beginners class in playing string instruments has been offered to children and adults at London’s First Baptist Church. This class will continue this fall under the administrative guidance of the London Community Orchestra and will continue to meet at First Baptist.

The class instruction is offered as a practical way for beginners to begin learning to play a violin, viola, cello, or string bass. The two semester class roughly follows the school calendar year and is designed to bring students to a point of being ready to continue after the class by taking private lessons.

Beginning in a class environment has two major advantages, according to Jerry Wright who has administered the program since its beginning.

First, the students can see and hear other beginning students working on the same skills that they are tackling, he said. This can both inspire them to work hard and can also provide encouragement since everyone has the same difficulties and skills to manage.

Secondly, the class instruction is less costly than private lessons, he said. This can give parents as well as older students a break while the student explores playing a string instrument and gets started.

The Beginning Class is open to all students in third grade through adults.

The Beginning Strings Class is taught by Rebecca Kiekenapp who is now in her 11th year with the program. Kiekenapp, a native of Faribault, Minnesota, earned a B.M. summa cum laude in cello performance at the University of Minnesota as a student of Tanya Remenikova.

She moved to Lexington, Kentucky in 1995 to attend the University of Kentucky where she earned a master's degree in cello. Kiekenapp has extensive orchestral and chamber music experience, having participated in programs such as the Aspen Music Festival, Bravo!, and the National Orchestral Institute.

As a member of the Niles String Quartet at the University of Kentucky, she attended the Audubon String Quartet seminar, participated as a semifinalist in the Fischoff International Chamber Music Competition, and was heard in live performance on the Woodsong Radio Hour.

Kiekenapp served as principal cellist of the UK Symphony Orchestra for several years, also performing as a two-time winner of the UK concerto competition. She performs regularly with the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra and the Endless Road Strings, as well as in other area concerts. Her teaching background includes serving as faculty at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, the Governor's School for the Arts, and with the Festival of Strings music camp in Lexington, where she is also co-director. Kiekenapp maintains a private studio in Lexington.

For those who are beyond the beginners stage, private lessons are also offered through the strings program at First Baptist Church. These are also taught by Kiekenapp.

The Strings Class is taught at First Baptist on Monday evenings and this year will begin on Monday, September 9 at 6:30 p.m. with an orientation session for students and parents. The class is open to students third grade through adults.

Students are encouraged to sign up in advance of the beginning date. More information including a brochure and sign up information can be obtained by contacting Jerry Wright at 606-224-0620 or musichouse@twc.com.

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