Sixth-grader’s solo concert to benefit KAI

By on August 15, 2014

ELBURN—Kaneland Middle School sixth-grader Bailey Cates will perform a solo guitar and piano concert on Sunday, Aug. 17, to benefit the Kaneland Arts Initiative.

Bailey has attended KAI’s Fine Arts Festival every year since she was 5 years old. She said she is excited about her upcoming performance, and is happy to be doing it to raise funds for such a good cause. She said she loves going to see the musicians perform at the festival. She tries to learn something from them each time, including how to be more confident when she’s performing.

Bailey began taking piano lessons when she was 5 years old. Her mom, Deanna Cates, who is also a pianist, said she knew that the earlier one starts music lessons, the better.

When Bailey was in third grade, Da Capo Music Studio came to Elburn, and Bailey started taking lessons there, with teacher Kristin Paxinos. When her dad received a gift of guitar lessons with Da Capo, Bailey would go with him to the lessons. It was there that she fell in love with the guitar.

“At first I thought it was a lot,” her mom said. “But she really took to the guitar.”

That year, Deanna and her husband gave Bailey a guitar for Christmas.

“It’s my favorite instrument,” Bailey said.

Deanna said she was impressed with how well the Da Capo teachers prepare their students, with all the recital opportunities they offer. Since 2010, Bailey has performed guitar and piano in more than 30 recitals. The opportunity to play in front of people is really important, Deanna said.

Bailey became so proficient with the guitar that last year, she was the only sixth-grade member of the Harter Middle School Jazz Band.

She also learned how to play the trumpet so she could participate in the regular school band, as well as singing in the school’s MidKnight Special singing group. MidKnight Special invites students to join the group after an audition, and they perform at various Kaneland schools during the year.

Bailey said she loves all types of music, including classical, jazz, pop, rock and more. She practices with each instrument every day, taking one-to-two hours with the guitar and 30-to-45 minutes each with the piano and trumpet.

“She’s only 12, and she plays at a college level,” Da Capo teacher Ben Westfall said. “She also works harder than anyone I’ve met. It’s inspiring. And she gets results.”

Kaneland Harter Middle School music teacher Dan Zielinski, in whose jazz lab band Bailey plays her trumpet, said he is looking forward to her concert on Sunday.

“A full recital is quite an accomplishment, especially for someone so young,” Zielinski said. “It says a lot about her character and her work ethic.”

He said not only is she performing the recital, but the fact that she is doing it to support a worthy organization shows her character and her community mindedness.

Her concert will include three sets: 15 minutes of classical guitar, 15 minutes of piano, and wrapping up with 15 minutes of jazz guitar. Her teachers will play with her and accompany her.

Deanna, who is the current president of the board for the Kaneland Arts Initiative (KAI), said she is happy her daughter’s performance will benefit the organization. Deanna has been actively involved with the KAI for the past seven years.

She said that the KAI offers high quality performing and visual arts experiences for the district and the community at affordable prices, as well as promoting the exploration of arts careers.

“It’ll be great to play for a cause!” Bailey said. “I’m really excited to play “Imagine” by John Lennon. It’s my favorite song.”

The concert, to be held at Da Capo Music Studio, 140 East Route 38 Unit C in Elburn, will be a mix of classical, jazz and pop performed on guitar and piano; repertoire will include “Moonlight Sonata,” Malaguena” and “Married Life from Up.” A dessert reception will follow.

The concert will be free and open to the public. A free-will donation will be taken, and all proceeds will go to the KAI. Donations should be made payable to Da Capo Music Studio, with KAI in the memo line. For more information about the concert, call (630) 777-2955 or email