Monadnock Ledger-Transcript – Mason Selectman Charlie Moser volunteers as music coach for mariachi band MES
Students in Mason Elementary’s mariachi band know Charlie Moser, chairman of the board, as “Mr. Moser.”
“It’s the only place in the world where I’m more respected. Nobody else calls me that,” Moser joked.
But what would a group of fifth graders call a teacher? Because that’s what Moser is to many of the band members, especially students interested in the ukulele. Music teacher Deborah Prince Smith launched the band amid COVID-19 precautions. It was an activity that did not use wind instruments, nor did it require singing, but still worked the musical muscles.
Moser read an article about the group in the Monadnock Ledger-Transcript and, being a music enthusiast himself, asked if the group could use a community volunteer with musical knowledge and teaching experience.
Smith said the band had a diverse background — some members had been taking instrumental lessons for years, while others were building from scratch. Students often jumped from instrument to instrument on different songs, so an extra pair of hands, especially one that could read music and could help guide more advanced students, was welcome. But Smith said it’s ultimately not up to her.
“At the end of his first rehearsal with the band, they decided on their own that they had to vote on whether he should officially join the band. I was touched by their sense of belonging to the band and relieved that they voted unanimously for its inclusion,” Smith said.
“I guess I passed the audition,” Moser said.
So on Thursday, the day of the week when the mariachi band meets after school, Moser was there, tuning ukuleles and looking for a lost pick in a ukulele body.
The group practices a few songs, including the melody to “We Don’t Talk About Bruno,” from Disney’s recent hit movie “Encanto,” using a simplified arrangement for students written by Smith herself. They take the song in sections, Moser choosing a repeating four-chord progression to have his two ukulele students practice.
Years ago, Moser gave private music lessons, but he also spends a week each year in Bristol, RI, teaching mandolin and guitar at the American Mandolin & Guitar Summer School, which accepts students from all over the world. country.
Moser was first introduced to music in elementary school, learning to play the trumpet in second grade. He disliked the instrument, however, he eventually switched to guitar. And then, in 1974, while visiting a friend, he heard a recording of Old & In the Way, with mandolin and vocals by David Grisman.
“The way Grisman played the mandolin appealed to me so much that I went to buy one,” Moser said. It has been his primary instrument ever since, although he still plays guitar as well. What he wasn’t was a ukulele player, but he taught himself the chords when he volunteered to help out with the band.
“It’s my first ukulele gig. Luckily I’m a quick learner,” Moser said.
Smith said having another teacher in the room allows students to explore more. One band member, she said, really fell in love with the ukulele and really learned the notes and chords.
“That’s the thing with a band like this. When you give kids the chance to do something like this, they can discover their strengths,” Smith said. “That’s the beauty of it. We lean on those strengths and don’t care what an individual can’t do.
Ashley Saari can be reached at 603-924-7172 ext. 244 or [email protected] She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.