The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

December 13, 2012

Opera soloist Laura Pedersen teaches at Assumption School

Star Beacon

GENEVA — Arianna Fix clutched her notebook in her hands and stood next to the piano at Assumption Church on Wednesday.

Filled with scribbles and doodles and line after line of song lyrics, the notebook is precious to Fix — a creative outlet for the precocious 11-year-old.

Fix’s lyrics to “Reach Out” went from notebook scribbles to song Wednesday as opera singer Laura Pedersen and vocal coach and pianist Martin Yazdzik gave a day-long music lesson at the school, complete with the missing parts of “Reach Out” for Fix.

“I write a lot of songs,” Fix said. “Reach Out is about going inside yourself to look at your feelings before your say anything.”

Pedersen said she hopes the day of music is an introduction to opera for the students and helps the school develop a solid music program.

“The students here are so sweet,” she said. “There’s nothing to spoil their love of music. They are all so accepting of all types of music, where they think no differently of opera than they would country music or pop.”

Kamilah Stark, 11, said she didn’t know anything about opera before she met Petersen.

“But I love the music now,” she said.

Hannah Dissauer, 11, said she loves to sing and would rather sing opera than pop.

“Everyone wants to be a pop star, but there is so much to learn about opera,” she said.

Fix was shaking with excitement over her song’s evolution.

“My song is going to be a real song,” she said. “I can’t believe it. I never, ever thought that would actually happen.”

There is a goal to all of Wednesday’s high notes, Pedersen said.

“The end goal is to do a concert with the girls in the spring so they can showcase what they do and be on their way to developing a music program,” she said.

Pedersen travels the country performing as an opera soloist. She is also half of “Harp and Heels” with harpist Calvin Stokes, with performances of classical foundation, but also jazz, country, Broadway and pop.

For more information about Pedersen, visit