Chuck Jaffee: Expanding musical horizons happening now |
Chuck Jaffee

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Chuck Jaffee: Expanding musical horizons happening now

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of reviews of films in the 10th Nevada City Film Festival, Aug. 19 through 22. For more in the film festivial visit

The documentary “My Musical Life” strikes many satisfying chords, and if you are a resident or appreciator of Nevada City, it’s an especially rich composition of local color.

The film focuses on five teenaged musicians, what’s inside of them, and what surrounds them. Making music is in their natures, and loving family support is in their nurtures. Opportunities for learning tap an engaging beat at their doors, including an eight-month Young Composers course sponsored by Music in the Mountains.

Jerry Grant, who made a career for himself as a musician and composer, contributes to these young people’s expanding horizons. So do many other musicians, including mentors outside the course. One of the special satisfactions for these teachers and students is a facility and hankering for a language they share.

Most of the featured five come from musical families. Perhaps the most famous parent, Alasdair Fraser, gladly fiddles with his fiddler son Galen. Alistair hopes his son catches the bug for composing music, which he says goes further than the typical path of merely interpreting music.

Molly Roth’s mom, though not a musician, plies her doting support. As with all these budding artists, Molly needs no parental prodding. Molly self-initiates so thoroughly that striving in her anatomy class counts toward assuring entrance in the best music school.

Trevor Villwock is another one who dials the importance of homework into his steeped commitments. The youngest featured youngster, Trevor, was already performing in a California “All State” band at age 13.

These kids chase musical experience in many directions. You think rock and roll might be part of the mix? Dylan Rodrigue, for instance, has already gained notoriety singing and playing guitar in his band, The Shreds.

All driven to perform, a gig might be a wedding or an appearance on National Public Radio. Such is the experience of harpist Sage Po.

In “My Musical Life,” it’s as interesting checking how five Nevada City teenagers want to be regular teenagers as it is appreciating such clearly gifted young people committed to sharing their gifts.

Chuck Jaffee of Nevada City likes to plug people into the spirit of independent filmmakers. Find his other articles for The Union at