Arts & Culture

Two Elementary School Students Use Their Talent for Good

Maggie and Matthew Schneider perform with Juilliard-trained musicians to benefit the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

-Hyon Schneider

Siblings Maggie and Matthew Schneider have packed quite a lot into their young lives so far. At ages 8 and 7, respectively, the two have already studied music at the Peabody Institute, been classically trained on the violin with a professor at the Manhattan School of Music, and have been spearheading an annual benefit concert.

Their efforts continue this Saturday, May 26, at the Baltimore Museum of Art where the two will perform on their quarter-size violins along with a group of Juilliard-trained musicians, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting the Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

"Even when they were just infants, you could see their eyes twinkled when they heard music," says their mom Dr. Hyon Schneider. "Thanks to ear training at Peabody, it didn't take long to found out that my kids had perfect pitch."

Maggie and Matthew began studying the early childhood music program at Peabody Institute at just 18 months old. They then progressed to a local Baltimore violin studio and both picked up the instruments for the first time at 3 years old. A few years later, they were making weekly trips up to New York City to study under Byung K. Kwak at the Manhattan School of Music. 

"When we first moved to Maryland, I told my husband it was important to be an easy driving distance to New York," says Schneider, a product of Juilliard pre-college herself. "It's been great to see them also have such a knack for music. A four-hour lesson doesn't make them tired—it makes them inspired."

What's more, the idea of a philanthropic concert came from the young students, who attend Bryn Mawr and Gilman schools. Inspired by projects like Alex's Lemonade Stand, the siblings knew that they wanted to use their talents for good. A cause found them when their uncle passed away from leukemia and they realized they wanted to give back on a local level to the Johns Hopkins Children's Center

"It struck them hard to see their cousins growing up without a father," Schneider says. "We did some local hospital visits and saw the great work Johns Hopkins is doing for leukemia. My kids loved the facilities but asked what might make the patients more comfortable. They want to donate money for games and books."

The program for Saturday's benefit concert, which begins at 5 p.m., reads more like the repertoire of a major symphony orchestra. Maggie and Matthew—alongside the Juilliard-trained Kwak, Andy Lin, and Nan-Chang Chen—will be performing concertos by Mozart, Bach, and Vivaldi. Quite a feat for the young siblings who haven't reached middle school yet.

"I'm most proud that their focus isn't on advertising their talents," Schneider says. "They are looking to provide for their community and encourage others in their generation to follow suit."

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