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Silent Film Festival Turns Piano Students into Accompanists for Classic Silent Movies

A Tempo this Saturday (4/6 at 7 pm) looks at the third annual Silent Film Festival sponsored by the New School for Music Study, where more than 100 students will perform music to serve as the soundtrack for classic silent films.

For the third year in a row, students of the New School for Music Study in Kingston, NJ, will become the accompanists for classic silent movies, taking turns playing music for the films at the AMC Theater at Market Fair Mall in Princeton on April 20. A Tempo this week checks back in with the school, a division of the Frances Clark Center for Keyboard Pedagogy, about the nine-hour event, which will serve as a fundraiser for the school, and how the idea has expanded to other schools around the country.

Host Rachel Katz will speak with NSMS Administrative Director Rebecca Pennington and two participating students - Peter Harisiades, who began studying as an adult, and 8-year-old Jensen Yam - about the experience. She will also chat with Heather Smith, Director of Development and Advancement at the Frances Clark Center, who came up with the idea for using silent movies when she was searching for ways to provide a more comfortable atmosphere for a student who was afraid to perform in public. She has now launched a non-profit offering resources and support for other schools that want to hold similar programs.

Rachel Katz is the host of A Tempo which airs Saturdays at 7 pm.