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Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

The student news site of Bellaire High School

Three Penny Press

Combining communities

Rhapsody Club unites musicians
Daniel Flores
Members of the rhapsody club perform during Cardinal Hour as “background music” for students. From left to right, officers Koen Plank, Kai Plank, and Matthew Guzman.

At the start of the 2023-2024 school year, the Rhapsody Club became a part of the Cardinal home.

Founded by juniors Matthew Guzman and Rachel Serna-Cohen, the club focuses on uniting all musicians together to serve the community through concerts for senior homes. The club is made of members who play music in fine arts classes at Bellaire and others who simply join to play their instrument.

“I’m sure there are other people on campus who probably feel the same way; they want to play music, but don’t really know how,” Guzman said. “Everybody in my club is a musician.”

Serna-Cohen initially asked orchestra and piano teacher Laurette Reynosa to sponsor the club. While Reynosa turned down the offer, she introduced Serna-Cohen to Guzman, a student Reynosa heard had a similar interest to Serna-Cohen.

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Guzman and Serna-Cohen ended up being in Reynosa’s classroom on the same day at the same time and developed a plan to create the Rhapsody Club in collaboration, instead asking for the sponsorship of band director Bill Waltemath who was eager to help the students.

Co- president Matthew Guzman plays the saxophone for the rhapsody club, a club Bellaire welcomed during the 2023 school year. (Daniel Flores )

The club of 30 members intends to play music during Cardinal Hour every Wednesday, as “nice background music” according to Guzman.

Meetings are typically held every other Wednesday to inform members about upcoming service events and offer opportunities for members to perform, but next year the club presidents hope to grow a sense of community during club meetings.

“It was a learning experience this year,” Serna-Cohen said. “I think next year will be a little bit easier to get more people to be interested in [the club] now that we know what happens during the year.”

Both co-presidents grew up with a passion for music. Guzman joined band in sixth grade but previously listened to a variety of genres of music.

“My mom grew up in the 90s, so I listen to a lot of that,” Guzman said. “I like the way music makes you feel, and [how] it can be any genre.”

Likewise for Serna-Cohen, her family, especially her dad, was invested in music.

“I’ve just grown up around [music],” Serna-Cohen said. “My dad was really into it and put me in piano when I was in kindergarten. Because of his love for music, I have that connection to him.”

Serna-Cohen and Guzman use their combined passions for music to fuel their club in making a difference and uniting people with similar interests.

“One of the purposes of Rhapsody is so we can get a bunch of musicians together so we can just play music how we want to play,” Guzman said. “I feel like on this campus, orchestra and band, specifically, are really divided. So, I liked the idea of being able to combine the two. If there are kids from orchestra or band [in the club], we can just play any music and just mix and match [instruments].”

Co-vice president Kai Plank plays the drums as the rhapsody club performs during Cardinal Hour. The club has gained roughly 30 new members since it’s initiation. (Daniel Flores)

Rhapsody uses this variety to leave room for experimentation, such as combining string instruments — like the viola, violin and guitar — and wind instruments — like the saxophone — in performances.

“You don’t usually hear a trumpet and a violin together,” Serna-Cohen said. “But with Rhapsody, you do. The club adds creativity to Bellaire, creating ensembles with instruments that don’t typically perform together.”

The club did not receive permission to perform during Cardinal Hour until the second semester, but that didn’t stop them from playing elsewhere. Seven members of the Rhapsody Club performed at The Gardens of Bellaire on November 12 playing jazz songs and classical music on the piano for a group of 12-15 senior citizens.

“At the nursing homes, all the seniors seemed to really enjoy and put their attention towards the music,” Serna-Cohen said. “They were [even] clapping along.”

Club sponsor and band director Waltemath was eager to help Guzman and Serna-Cohen in supervising the club and gave students leeway in making decisions.

“The kids that wanted to make this club are really good kids and I know they love music and are very responsible,” Waltemath said. “In the end, how do you learn how to lead something without leading it? I think for a first-year club, they’ve done really well.”

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