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13-Year Old John Jay Middle School Student Makes Magic with Her Flute

A Look Back at Rachel Rodgers

13-year old Rachel Rodgers of John Jay Middle School can offer an opinion on the flute player that most readily comes to mind for those of us raised on classic rock. "I've only heard him a few times," said the eighth grader of Jethro Tull, "and he's really good." Sounds a little light on the Ian Anderson, and makes you wonder what they're teaching these kids in school today?

In this case, it doesn't really matter, because someday it may be more relevant to ask, if he's ever heard of her, and what she can do with a flute.

Short on Years, Long on Resume

This might not even be such a far-fetched question to ask right now. She's a member of the Western Connecticut Youth Orchestra, has been selected for the Westchester All-County Band, and played last summer with the Orchestra at the French Woods Festival of Performing Arts.

Not bad for a 13-year old, but none are the most impressive part of her resume (or probably enough to wake Mr. Anderson from whatever state he is in now). Yes, she like many, has a CD.  But Summer after 7 stands out, not just because of the talent she exemplifies on the nine tracks contained within.

"He's the greatest living jazz bassist in the world," said her dad of Ron Carter. And Rachel mixes the slow swing of a lazy summer night on several featured tracks with the world class musician.

"He was very impressed with Rachel," said Jonathan Rodgers.

But her aptitude with the instrument emerged to her parents rather surprisingly. Introduced to the flute at school in 5th grade, she took to it informally without any real in depth instruction. Then one morning she sprung it on her dad. ”She played me a version of b-flat blues, and I was floored," he said.

At this point, Rachel has no problem rising to the impressive roster of venues she can already lay claim to. "I've done lots of performances, and it's more excitement than nervousness," said Rachel.

What about getting the jitters in the face of all the studio sets with Mr. Carter? To the question, she could only respond with a giggle, which could have been conveying confidence, or just the joy of doing something she loves.

Nonetheless, her dad clarified that she took the challenge in stride. A drummer himself, he was also clear as to whether he felt a tinge of envy toward the incredible opportunity she was presented with. "No, I'm so proud," he said, and the manner in which she handles her success is also a source of pride.

All that Jazz, and Even Some Sales

Even so, the CD has started to generate a bit of a bottom line, and will go toward music camp, and a new alto flute. So far, about 200 copies have found a home and will warm the winter for fans cool enough to swing to her sound.

Summer gets classical too, but it's hard for her to single out which form appeals to her more. Either way, jazz seems to hold a special appeal to her. "You're really making up ideas as you go along, and that's really cool to me," said Rachel.

Dad could concur on that, and the instinctive interaction, which takes place among the players. "There's a certain telepathy that goes into jazz," he said.

All in all, Rachel seems to have it covered–leaving Mr. Rodgers the difficult task of matching her ability to words that do her justice. "Rachel's skills are pretty crazy for a 13-year old," he said.

That works just fine.

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13-Year Old John Jay Middle School Student Makes Magic with Her Flute
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