The following interview has been taken on the “Children Medieval Band” kids and posted (in German) on the rammstein-austria.com. Here is the English translation:
When a child arrives at school in the morning and gets asked by its friends “What did you do yesterday?” typical answers would be “I played soccer”, “I did my school work” or “I played on the computer”. A quite unusual answer would be “I played as opening act for Rammstein”. Three kids living in the US could say this truly. Stefan (10 years old), Olga (8 years old) and Cornelia (5 years old) rocked 10.000 people with their self formed Children Medieval Band as opening act in Denver. Rammstein Austria had the chance to conduct an interview with the three young musicians and their parents, and to ask them a bit about their experiences. Topics are the live performance, the meeting with Rammstein, the formation of the band and many more.
First of all a question about your live performance on May 20th 2012. You played in the Denver Coliseum in front of approximately 10.000 fans. Many people would get a shock in such a situation but you appeared like you do this every day. Have you been nervous before or during the gig?
Stefan: I felt nervous in the beginning, but when I heard all the people cheering, I wanted to show them I can play the songs very well.
Cornelia: I also felt a little nervous at the first song – Ich Will, but when I started to play on the drums I began to feel ok.
Did you ever played in front of a crowd before or was it the first time?
Band: We played at our church, on Christmas Show, in front of about 200 people. We played and sang two carols and the audience was very receptive.
How does it feel to stand on such a big stage and to hear thousands of applauding people after you finished a song?
Stefan: I felt kind of famous.
Olga: I was ok, happy that we didn’t do any mistake. We practice every day in our little room, so we tried to think it’s just an usual day of practice. Not to think too much at that moment.
What kind of feeling was it to see your children standing on the stage? What were your thoughts in this moment?
Mom: Happy for them, but still a little concerned on those moments.
Dad: Very tense, worried, ready to intervene if needed, also happy that the children were doing fine.
When and how did the contact between Rammstein and you come up? How long were you thinking about the question if you should allow your kids to play in front of 10.000 metal heads?
Dad: We had been in contact with them for 2-3 weeks before Denver show. They posted our Sonne cover on their site and sent us emails regarding a possible meeting with the R+ musicians. We thought this was a great thing, but didn’t plan to attend the show, it wasn’t something for the kids to watch. We informed the R+ team about our location in the Denver area and so the meeting day was pre-arranged for May 20th. However the invitation to play on stage came unexpectedly, only 24 hours before the show. Our first reaction was: “No way!” Couldn’t expose the kids to such a situation. That was not a place for children. It could also get bad: make mistakes on stage, get shy or scared, get booed by the audience, etc…
But the kids were excited about it!
One of our principles is that we should always take into consideration the kids’ instincts. The upbringing is for their benefit, not ours, and we can never be too sure of how much they sense, or foresee their own future, and what they need for it.
So we decided to follow the kids’ decision, but we’ve been unsure about it all the way. We went there ready to cancel if things didn’t look right. However, when we met the team members: Heike – the tour manager, Joe Letz who tried to assure us that nothing will go wrong, and then the R+ musicians themselves who were very friendly, sober and very gentlemanish, our worries kind of went away.
How did you get to hear that Rammstein want you to be their opening act? How did you react?
Band: Our parents told us and our instant reaction was: Yeeeaaah!!.
Olga: I was excited and I told my sister : “I can’t believe I’m going to meet Rammstein guys..”
Mom: The kids were happy that Rammstein noticed their video, but our goal wasn’t to get their attention. We try to teach our kids good music.
And the fact that R+ have told us privately that they watched and liked our videos was a big encouragement. Bigger than any other opinions.
There are probably not many kids in the world who get such an offer from an international popular band. How did your friends react when you told them that you’re supporting act for Rammstein?
Stefan: Well, they couldn’t believe it – after I showed them the video, they started to ask about the songs.
Olga: They were surprised, after that my friends congratulated me.
What was it like to meet Rammstein? Have you been talking with them?
Stefan: We talked a little with each of them. I was happy to recognize them, to see the band alive:)
Cornelia: I asked Paul what’s his favorite color… They were very nice. 🙂 Christoph gave me three pairs of his drum sticks.
Did you watch the Rammstein show after your performance?
Stefan: No, only the beginning, it was too loud for us and late. We had to go home.
Your videos on Youtube were watched more than 4 million times so far. Have you already been recognized by others on the street?
Stefan: No! We are pretty low profile:)
How old were Olga, Cornelia and Stefan when they started to make music?
Parents: They each had an early music start. Stefan was playing at the piano since he was 2 years old. Olga and Cornelia were following him at the age 3-4.
Which musical instruments do you play each?
Stefan: I play guitar, violin, keyboard, flute, recorder, drums, harmonica, trumpet- I have all this instruments in my house, bought by my parents.
Olga: I play keyboard, violin, recorder (block flute) and a little drums.
Cornelia: I play drums, a little piano and harp.
How often do you practice?
Band: Every day, individually 15-30 min, and then together for 30 min.
You submitted your first video on Youtube almost one year ago. But your kids made music already before. Is there an official date of formation of the Children Medieval Band?
Parents: Yes, the band has been formed in the spring of 2011 by the kids themselves. Stefan came out with two composition attempts and the girls joined him with enthusiasm. The original line-up was:
Stefan – guitar
Olga – vocal and drum
Cornelia – keyboard
After several days, as it usually happens, things started to cool off, but their dad insisted that they should continue working together as a band, at least 1 hour per day.
The main idea was that they should study together, learning more about music and its history. Dad believed that medieval music is the best genre for kids to learn, so they started with Ecco La Primavera written by Francesco Landini, 14th century in Italy.
After a few days of rehearsals, we videotaped it. The recording was not bad, so we posted it on youtube, sometimes in June 2011.
While continuing learning medieval music, we started doing covers of rock songs; first piece was Beatles – Love Me Do, and then two more songs from the 60s. We had a to-do list, supposed to follow the timeline of the rock history, but for several reasons we skipped everything and jumped to the end, so we did three Rammstein songs. The cover of Sonne became famous soon.
You’re living in the United States but originally you’re from Romania. Do you visit it now and then?
Parents: We lived in Romania before. For 6 years we’ve been in US and we hope to go back there (in Romania), for an extended visit, soon.
Did you know that the Rammstein video for Rosenrot was filmed in Romania?
Band: We didn’t see the video. We didn’t know it was filmed in Romania.
Parents: We knew, of course. It’s a great song and video, but it’s a little scary for the kids to watch.
When was the first time you heard of Rammstein?
Stefan: I remember listening Keine Lust when I was 4 🙂
Parents: We knew about R+ since 2000, I think…
On which songs are you working currently?
Parents: Donaukinder… it’s a pretty nice song, a little sad, and it applies well to present situation in Romania.
Joe Letz who introduced you on the stage is a drummer playing for Combichrist. Cornelia, did you give him some hints how he can improve his play?
Cornelia: No, I just showed him my watch!
Are there people who inspire you?
Stefan: My dad… and my mom. John Lennon, a few guys from Romania – my dad’s friends.
On Youtube there are a lot of comments of people who wish to have such children, too. Can you give basic advised to (expectant) parents what they could do in order to make young children familiar with playing music?
Parents: It’s not easy in a few words. The main idea is that the kids should like the music they play and all starts from there. But influencing their taste is the most delicate matter.
We are trying hard to find the best educative methods for our children. There are not many fixed principles. The children learn best when they have the freedom to choose what, when and how to learn. Also some guidance and a gentle push may be also needed. So the art is to balance between suggestions, even a little bit of enforcement (made with love, not severity) and freedom.
We believe the most appropriate for children to learn is the medieval music, because it relates very well to fairy tales, which kids like naturally. The problem is there are not many early songs very well interpreted in order to appeal directly to children. The parent has to introduce them to this kind of music, to explain it a bit. This of course requires the parent to get familiar with it.
Also, the kids may be influenced by their peers choice of music, which is not of too good taste nowadays. Fortunately our kids received more influence from us, the parents, and started to like what we like.
This implies to spend more time with your children.
Once children start to be interested in music, then it gets easier: 1 hour a day should be enough, too much would turn them off. But start directly hands-on, with songs, not much theory. And then add some scales or other technical stuff, only in order to improve the performance on the songs they like to play.
Also it’s been of good help for our kids, that they play almost daily, for a few minutes, with the program Earpower (written by dad). It is available at www.earpower.com. It can be used with a microphone, which is somewhat funnier for children, and it helps to improve the pitch and rhythm.