CRESTVIEW — Just playing the cello brightens Montavius Diamond's day, and after hearing the 24-year-old musician perform, many Northwood Arts and Sciences Academy students are keen to try the mellow instrument themselves.
Northwood media specialist Kristal Petruzzi invited Diamond to share his passion for the cello Thursday morning as part of the school's Black History Month programming. Kindergartners through third-graders spent 20-minute sessions with Diamond.
They learned that the stringed instrument is "a cousin to the violin," which many Cougars are learning to play as part of Northwood's music curriculum; that the cello was designed with the human body in mind, and includes commonly named parts, including ribs, back and neck; and that playing a cello, or any other instrument, requires plenty of practice, diligence and "doing your homework," Diamond said.
A new experience
Petruzzi said she and the classes' teachers were amazed by how attentive students were during each of Diamond's presentations.
"Our kids (had) never seen anything like this," she said. "They were captivated."
Students peppered Diamond with questions during his presentations. "What do they make the cello out of?" second-grader Ava Howard asked. Wood and glue was the answer. "Why don't you play another instrument?" Natalie Bryant wanted to know. Diamond does: he plays piano and also sings. "Why do you twist your hand when you play?" third-grader Seth Sombrowski asked. It enhances the vibrato, Diamond said.
After hearing a few selections, the kids examined the block of rosin Diamond uses to treat the horse-hair bow and feel the velvet-lined case that weighs more than the 10-pound cello it protects.
Above all, they learned that playing a musical instrument can be therapeutic.
"If things aren't working out, I play my cello and I feel so much better," Diamond said. "If you want to stay positive and keep happy, the cello is real good for that."