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Members of Young Strings play music because they love it and playing together, and each one has plans to incorporate music in some way with their lives after school. The trio – Sean Steinbach, violin, 13; Sydney Kutsch, violin, 16; Cameron Fair, cello, 17 – have been playing together for two years. They met through Gifford music teacher Angela Janota – who Steinbach had as his music teacher when he attended Gifford – and she often brought older students to school to play with her student groups. All three students say Janota still inspires them. “We played a little bit of everything with Ms. Janota,” Fair said Saturday before the group’s performance at Malicki’s Piggly Wiggly, 5201 Washington Avenue. “She inspired us to try new things and she still inspires us.” Steinbach is entering eighth grade at St. Catherine’s; Kutsch is beginning her junior year, also at St. Catherine’s; and Fair will be a senior this year at Washington Park. Michael Steinbach, Sean’s father, said Young Strings came together three years ago after Sean met Fair when Fair was invited by Janota to play with a group of more advance students that included Sean. “We asked Cameron to play more regularly with Sean and after about a year, Sydney joined them,” Michael said. Kutsch – like Fair – was an older student invited by Janota to play with younger students. Young Strings started playing holiday music at local businesses like Milaeger’s, Michael said. “We encouraged the kids to play more and to see the benefit of playing and earning some money,” he added with a chuckle. “They are quite the group now.” Most recently – in addition to the Saturday gig at The Pig – Young Strings played a free concert in the Kutschs’ neighborhood earlier this month as a thank you for their parents’ support and that of their families, neighbors and friends. The show was dubbed “Racinia” as a play on the popular Ravinia concert venue in Highland Park, IL. “It’s kind of cool that we’re getting a following,” Sean said. The Strings enjoy playing a variety of styles of music, but they agree that classical Celtic tunes are their favorites. “I like the classics, but Celtic is my favorite,” Kutsch said. “The songs are fun to play because they’re fast-paced and just have a good vibe.” Members of the Strings all have an eye on incorporating music into their futures. For Fair, whose future kicks off when he heads to college next year, he is looking at a major in computer engineering with a minor in music for a possible career in music production. He’s considering the University of Wisconsin-Parkside; UW-Platteville; or Belmont in Tennessee. Kutsch is interested in a medical career of some kind but said she can’t imagine not playing music so she’ll most likely minor in music and play with community groups. She plans to apply to UW-La Crosse and UW-Madison. Steinbach has a few years yet before he has to get serious about thinking about college and a career, but he hopes his future includes music in some way. The group has just about another year to play together before Fair heads off for college, and Steinbach is already reaching out to other musicians so he can keep playing. Until then, though, the Young Strings are excited to keep playing dates around town and admit to still getting the jitters and to not feeling comfortable talking about themselves. “We do get the jitters, but then we start playing and it just goes away,” Fair said. “We definitely would rather play than talk.”

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In addition to our education features, we’ll be kicking off a series of stories highlighting how parents, students, and educators are adapting to the impact of COVID-19 on education. If this is important to you, please consider donating to our education reporting fund. https://business.facebook.com/donate/1846323118855149/3262802717172659/