GREENVILLE — International pianist Jason Farnham, of Santa Rosa, California, entertained some of the Greenville Elementary School students, Tuesday, at the school.
Farnham, an Ohio native, came to Greenville as part of the Darke County Center for the Arts (DCCA) Coffeehouse Series. He performed a sold-out concert at the Coffee Pot, March 2. Farnham began playing the piano at age 4. Recent projects include composing for a BMW commercial and scoring the independent film, “Hiding in the Open”. He now composes for Oprah Winfrey’s company Harpo Productions, and has composed and produced music for this past season of the “Dr. Oz Show”, including the opening theme.
Some might wonder how entertaining a pianist can be to a group of children. As it turns out, Farnham had a few tricks up his sleeve for capturing their attention.
“This is kind of a branch on what I do in the evening concerts,” he said. “I do some of the this stuff in the evening show, but this is more juvenile and really fun to spark their creativity.”
“Are you guys ready?” he asked the students. “YES!” they screamed.
He opened the show by performing the “Linus and Lucy” Peanuts theme song, by Vince Guaraldi, on a toy piano. He played some older songs from Jerry Lee Lewis and Woody Guthrie. In addition he played some classical music and tested the student’s knowledge. And they delivered.
“What song is this,” he asked.
“Fur Elise,” a student responded.
He also played some more familiar songs, such as the theme song from the animated “Sponge Bob Square Pants” show, composed by Mark Harrison and Blaise Smith. During this song, the students screamed the response, “Sponge Bob Square Pants”. He also performed a re-mix of the theme song for the 2013 animated Disney Film “Frozen”, written and composed by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez .
Throughout the performance he engaged the audience with questions about which songs he played and some history and trivia about the piano itself. He also explained why the piano is called the “King of Instruments”.
“It’s because of its amazing range,” he said. “The other reason why the piano is so cool is you are a one – person band. You don’t need to play any other instrument, as your left hand does the rhythm while your right plays the melody.”
And just when they thought they had seen everything, Farnham went under his piano and played it upside-down. While he showed the students a good time, he said he wanted to place the idea in them that practicing is important.
“When I was a kid, I wanted to practice,” he said. “My mom made me practice an hour a day – she set the egg timer. Some days were better than others. Then I joined the Jazz Band in eighth grade at school, and that was a whole new thing for me. Playing got more fun and people were depending on me to play this part – a part of something else. I didn’t want to let them down, so I practiced. Some days my friends would be out playing and I would be practicing. But it paid off.”
DCCA Executive Director Andrea Jordan said the reason DCCA started was to ensure that all Darke County Public School students are exposed to professional artists.
“It is very important, we feel, that in providing our mission of enrichment to the community, to provide these concerts to the students,” she said. “We definitely thank our sponsors and all the schools that made it possible. We couldn’t do it without them.”
Sponsors include: The Andersons, Inc.; EB Real Estate; Julie and Tom Graber; Eileen and Steve Litchfield and Rodney Oda. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund this program with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. DCCA also receives operating support from the Harry D. and Esther Stephens Memorial as well as funding from the Ketrow Foundation and Lydia E. Schaurer Memorial Trust Fund. DCCA membership contributions also help support this show.