When Principal Greg Muzik began to introduce the morning’s visiting musical guest, Peppino D’Agostino, to the 250 assembled students, they must have wondered where he was, as the stage was empty. They may have become more confused when they heard the sound of a guitar yet the artist still was nowhere to be seen. Peppino, who had been sitting in a back corner of the auditorium while the students filed in, began to play while slowly walking among the kids as he made his way towards the stage. He had definitely captured their attention.

Once on stage he told the students he was from Italy, “the land of spaghetti,” and soon had the kids singing along in Italian while he sang and played. He then showed the students how a guitar could be played with one hand and that the guitar can do several parts of a song. During a rhythm exercise he had the students rub their hands together, snap their fingers and then clap hands with a neighbor while he played along. Peppino was impressed with how musical the students were.

At one point during a Q&A session, one student asked if he knew the theme from Star Wars which Peppino figured out while continuing to talk and take questions. Peppino ended his performance by asking all to close their eyes and create a video in their minds based on his song, which was an enchanting way for both students and educators to go forth for the rest of their day.

In the afternoon Peppino played for about 100 students at the east end’s Anna Julia Cooper Episcopal School. Once again he began by walking around the assembled students and playing up close and personal with them. He mentioned that his influences included his mother’s piano playing as well as Stevie Wonder, Wes Montgomery and the Beatles. The students, grades 4 through 8, were captivated by the possibilities the guitar presented and several seemed motivated to take up learning the guitar themselves. He gifted the school several of his CDs which the principal said they would play over the school’s announcements system to start each day. It was a fine time for all with many smiling faces as he ended his set.

Photos by Bill Rice and Tim Timberlake