Their first paid gig: Kent kids teaming up with Darren Motamedy

Ty Leeper and Fernando Quevedo have only been playing their instruments for two years (Leeper even less as he switched to sax from clarinet), but the pair are ready to make their professional debut Saturday at Kona Kai Koffee Company in downtown Kent.

Sixth graders Fernando Quevedo

Sixth graders Fernando Quevedo

Ty Leeper and Fernando Quevedo have only been playing their instruments for two years (Leeper even less as he switched to sax from clarinet), but the pair are ready to make their professional debut Saturday at Kona Kai Koffee Company in downtown Kent.

“I think this is my debut of my career,” Leeper, 11, said after a run through of “Basie’s Blues,” one of the songs he and trombonist Quevedo will be performing. “This is what I want to do when I grow up.”

Leeper and Quevedo will be making their debut along with six other Kent School District students (a quartet and two soloists) at a special concert with their teacher, saxophonist Darren Motamedy and his jazz trio.

Motamedy, the 2008 Kent Teacher of the Year as well as a professional musician, said he wanted to give the kids a chance to see what it was like to play for a paying crowd.

The other students performing will be a Grass Lake Elementary quartet featuring Ali Beliveaux, Ashley Schroeder, Nicolas Sandifer and Preston Slane, as well as flute soloists Mckenna Brown and Elena Johns, both from Ridgewood Elementary.

“It’s a chance to teach them what it’s like in the real world,” Motamedy said.

Motamedy, whose newest CD is called “Don’t Cha’ Know,” performs all over the region with a variety of bands, as well as teaching music at five schools. While his students can hear his music on disc, they rarely have a chance to see him perform because he is usually playing in bars.

But at Kona Kai, the show will be open to fans of all ages.

“This is one of the first times the kids can come see me perform,” he said.

Motamedy also said is was an opportunity to highlight some young performers and teach them some of the real-world economics of being a professional musician.

“They have to know; Hey, you know what? If you’re a musician, you can go out and make money,” he said.

Motamedy said each of the kids will make $10 for their performance.

“They’re all going to get paid,” Motamedy said. “They’re going to see what it’s like to be a musician.”

Motamedy said he chose the students to perform with him because of their skill and their dedication.

“I chose them because they’re always in here practicing,” he said about Leeper and Quevedo, saying the sixth-graders were “easily” playing at an eighth-grade level. “They play non-stop.”

Motamedy said the two boys are in before school, at lunch and even after school to practice their instruments. At home, both boys said their parents have to tell them to stop practicing or send them to another room to get some quiet.

Leeper said he and Quevedo met over the summer when Leeper was at a friend’s and ran into Quevedo. The two started talking about playing music and then started playing together at school.

Both boys said they enjoy playing their instruments and hope to be professional musicians someday.

And while both were excited to step on to the stage Saturday, they were not particularly nervous about it.

“I’m more excited than nervous,” Quevedo said.

“I’ve done this sort of thing before,” Leeper added, citing band concerts in which he’s played. “I’d rather play in front of an audience than by myself.”

“It feels good when the people clap to you,” Quevedo agreed.

Hear them play

• What: Darren Motamedy and the DMO Trio, with performances from local elementary students.

• When: 7-10 p.m. Saturday

• Where: Kona Kai Koffee Co., 124 Fourth Ave. S., Suite 180, Kent

• Call 253-859-5662

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