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Retired Cumberland County teacher shines light on bullying, bad choices in debut novel ‘Orchestra Friends: Squeals, Groans, Off-Beat Rhythms’


Fatrice Wynn Currie confesses that creating and writing stories, or even sharing an idea for a story, were never high on her list of fun things to do throughout her early years as a student. Although she loved music, when teachers asked the students to listen to music and then make up a story based on what they heard, Currie’s imagination failed her.

However, years later it happened. For Currie to survive as a music teacher, she discovered the wonderful world of creating stories. Because money was not always available for resource classes, she often wrote poems, plays and stories to enhance what she wanted her students to experience in the music class. It never crossed her mind that at one time she cringed when asked to create a story. Currie did what she needed to do to enrich her students’ musical experiences.

The inspiration for a story about children wanting to excel at playing orchestra instruments came from Currie’s work with the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. After retiring from teaching, Currie served as the education coordinator for the Fayetteville Symphony Orchestra. One of the grants she managed supported visits by musicians to local schools. During the visits, the musicians demonstrated their instruments and their superb musicianship for the students. They also played their instruments to interact with two short stories written by Currie. (“Getting Better with Practice” and “Music: Respect My Style.”) She also authored a narrative poem, “The Orchestra in My Hometown,” for a pamphlet distributed to third-graders who attended Fayetteville Symphony’s “Peter and the Wolf’’ concert.

Currie was born in Charlotte. She received her bachelor’s degree in music education from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University-Greensboro and her master’s degree in music education from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She received certification as a curriculum specialist from Fayetteville State University.

Currie had an extensive career as a music educator. In addition to teaching public school music, she worked as a consultant for the North Carolina A+ Schools Program. Her job included designing and presenting workshops in North Carolina, Arkansas and Oklahoma. The workshops taught teachers how to identify music concepts that could reinforce student learning in other subjects.

For one semester, as an adjunct instructor at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke, Currie taught “Music Experiences for Young Children,” a course designed for early elementary education majors. For three years she represented North Carolina A+ Schools as a guest presenter for the course “The Arts for Elementary Education” at North Carolina State University.

Currie served as an interim director for two choirs at First Baptist Church-Moore Street in Fayetteville, where she lives with her husband, Walter.

In her young adult, coming-of-age debut novel, “Orchestra Friends: Squeals, Groans, Off-Beat Rhythms,’’ Currie tells the story of how bullying and bad choices could determine the outcome of Pearson High School’s extravaganza concert. The book describes the unpleasant instrument sounds when 15-year-old Sebastian and his diverse group of high school orchestra friends have not practiced. The words also depict the chaos in the orchestra friends’ lives as they struggle to prepare for their school’s extravaganza concert. Sebastian does not like for his friends to ask him to keep their secrets. He just wants to play football and play his bass violin. During most of the school year, Alex, one of the percussionists, is threatened by two thugs. A new girl schemes to get Megan’s piccolo solo. Bruce, a trumpet player, struggles to stay awake in orchestra class. For health reasons, the doctor placed Keneshia, a piano prodigy, on a diet. Ben, who plays violin, thinks his friends do not know his carefully guarded secret.

“Orchestra Friends: Squeals, Groans, Off-Beat Rhythms’’ is available on Amazon in Ebook and paperback.

“Orchestra Friends: Squeals, Groans, Off-Beat Rhythms’’, Fatrice Wynn Currie