Riley and Kate Rutherford on performing with the Clarksville Youth Guitar Orchestra


Vanessa 3Riley and Kate Rutherford are 9 year old twin sisters from Erin, Tennessee. They study with Vanessa Green, adjunct professor at Austin Peay State University.  They shared their experience of preparing and performing with the Clarksville Youth Guitar Orchestra at the Montgomery County Library-


We are 9-year-old identical twins who started our musical career on ukuleles. We also learned to sing together and, as a challenge, we learned to sing harmony. Harmony is pleasing because there are two corresponding parts, and they blend well together— sort of like we blend together! After we started classical guitar lessons with Mrs. Vanessa, we asked her to add harmony to our pieces because we wanted a similar blend.

We started out playing duets, working on them together at home, so we were able to practice them frequently. We moved on to ensembles, which were a bit (A LOT) harder. Our grandmother, Mimi, played another part of the piece, so playing became easier. Finally, after we had had enough practice, Mrs. Vanessa put together a GUITAR ORCHESTRA! It was crazy awesome because we learned a new piece each week! We practiced ALL of the different pieces of music. It was FUN!

As we prepared for the big concert, we found out how fun it was to play with all ages (even college kids). Although we were different ages, we shared a common interest in music and guitar. Knowing harmony made playing in ensembles easier, and we had always played together, so playing guitar with others was familiar to us. Learning each new piece was difficult because some of our ensemble-mates went at different speeds—some faster, some slower. Our “twin sense” gave us the same feel for the music’s timing, but we had to learn to play at the same tempo as others.

Sometimes the practices for the orchestra concert were long, even past our bedtime, but we were having so much fun that we didn’t mind. Everyone worked hard at home, and with Ms. Vanessa in our group practices. When we all came together, IT WAS AMAZING! We felt nervous and excited, and the concert was a complete success. The kids experienced something they had never done before.

It’s cool having someone to practice with because you learn what another part of the music sounds like and you get used to the feel of the piece. We practice every day, and you should too. We practice ensembles and duets, but ensembles are the most difficult. For example, “Sakara” is an ensemble that took us DAYS to get, while a duet called “Irish Washerwoman” was no trouble at all!

We both learned that the easiest parts can become the hardest if you let your guard down or your mind wander (Ms. Vanessa calls this playing on “auto pilot”). If you are playing the same note continuously, you can mess up the timing and then everyone will have to start over (believe us, we have been through it). We also learned that classical guitar is a soothing way to make you, your family, and your friends happier. The best thing we learned is that learning and playing music is FUN!

Ms. Vanessa quoted a famous guitarist who said something like “If I miss 1 day of practice only I know. If I miss 2 days of practice only my wife knows. If I miss 3 days of practice the world knows.” We say this: “If I miss 1 day of practice only I know. If I miss 2 days of practice only my twin knows. If I miss 3 days of practice EVERYONE knows!”

Now guitar is an important part of our lives and we don’t want to miss a day of it!

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