They are different ages and go to different schools but their love of music unites the members of a guitar ensemble


They play guitar but it is no rock band.

A group of students selected for their guitar talent perform together as Knoxville Bella Corda. Emily Stroud and Jim Martin

Breanna Piercy explained, "Bella Corda is a classical guitar ensemble and we play different genres of pieces from classical Mozart to Mexico flamenco music and it's just a lot of fun."

Breanna is one of the students at Allied Music Instructors in West Knoxville selected for the elite ensemble.

"It's really great to have competition," she said.

Clay Blanchett said, "A lot of the lessons taught here are in a group format so they're going to be familiar with ensemble playing before they really try out for this group."

Director Clay Blanchett leads the students in practice and at performances. They have played outdoors and in nursing homes and on the radio.

"WDVX Blue Plate Special, we've gotten around town," Breanna said.

Clay Blanchett said, "They're learning skills that are going to transfer to job interviews because they get put on the spot a lot. They get used to it and do a better job every time."

The students took different paths but their musical journeys took them to Knoxville Bella Corda.

"My dad used to play guitar when he was a kid and he was never that great but I always thought it was really cool that he could play so when I got into middle school my mom told me I had to choose between another instrument and band. I was not going to do band so I thought I would play guitar because it's what my dad used to do," Breanna said.

Phillip Kiefer said, "I kept bugging my mother that I wanted to play the guitar constantly. And then one Christmas there it was. It was a little half sized guitar probably not even as big as my leg is now."

To get a full sized real guitar he signed up for real guitar lessons a dozen years ago. And here he is.

Phillip is the senior member of the ensemble but it's a place where age doesn't really matter.

"Gary's in middle school. It's just such a whole different demographic I don't even have anything to talk about except for music and it really brings us together as musicians," he said.

Breanna said, "It's great having a group of people who understand what you do and who can help with it and are enjoying it as much as you are."

Phillip said, "Great group of kids. These guys... This is technically my last semester with the Bella Corda so it's been a good experience and Mr. Blanchett's a great man and a great composer and a great teacher."

The students are eager to keep learning to make beautiful music together.

The group's next public performance is set for May 9th at "Art in the Park" in Farragut.

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