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Columbia flute studio holds first graduation ceremony

Thursday, May 26, 2011 | 11:45 p.m. CDT
Rock Bridge High School graduating senior, Jennifer Selva, 18, practices in a corridor minutes prior to the performance.

COLUMBIA — Lisa Thill Franck is a Jedi flute master.

At least that is what her student of six years Mary Kettlewell thinks.

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"Obviously, she's not a real Jedi," Kettlewell said.

Seven high school seniors who have been taking private lessons at the Lisa Thill Franck Flute Studio gathered for the Studio's first formal graduation ceremony at 7 p.m. Thursday at Evangelical Free Church-Columbia.

Aubrey Miller, Amanda Smith, Briana Phillips, QinQin Yu, Jessica Stanley, Jennifer Selva and Kettlewell were the graduates.

The prospect of having such an event was inspired by a vintage edition flute quartet arrangement of the traditional graduation theme "Pomp and Circumstance" that Franck received from a former instructor. Frank wanted to use it in a graduation-like ceremony and turned to the graduates themselves to organize the event.

"I said, 'Whatya wanna do?'" Franck said.

The students began organizing. They created a photo slideshow, which included baby pictures, senior pictures and pictures of their performances. Each senior also selected a piece of music to play for the audience. Some played in pairs, while others tried to do something new and creative.

Phillips chose to pair live dancing with her music. She said putting a visual element with something musical was challenging, especially after her first dancer backed out of the show. But, she was happy when the performance came together.

Phillips plans to study music business at Greenville College in Illinois.

"The fact that I'm knowledgeable about music from my flute makes me confident about studying music business," she said.

Kettlewell explained that one reason she and her fellow flutists worked so hard to put on a nice year-end event was so that they could all get some closure.

"(Lisa's) probably one of the people I work with as a teacher that I admire most," she said.

Franck estimates that she has taught hundreds of students since opening her flute studio.

By the time students are ready to graduate, she said, "They're not students — they're friends."

Miller says learning from Franck has been "the best experience."

She ended up playing the flute mostly through chance. When trying out musical instruments, she tried the flute and the drums but was not good at drums.

Since starting lessons with Franck, Miller says she has learned about friendship and leadership skills and gained a better understanding of music.

Franck used Facebook to promote the commencement event on Thursday evening. She also depended on text message chains sent out by her 40-plus students and word of mouth.

As she paused and hugged a student next to her, Franck was quiet and teary-eyed. "I designed the whole program so I wouldn't have to speak because I knew I would get emotional," Franck said.

"Really, music is a way we can communicate without words on a profound level."


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