EYS MEETS 7 OUT OF 9 NATIONAL STANDARDS FOR PERFORMANCE AND THE ARTS
The advantages of music education are well documented but support for these programs continues to face hurdles. Since its inception in 2001, EYS has provided unique solutions to these problems by working directly with schools to tailor programs to suit their needs, raise funds, and inspire students to succeed both in and out of music class.
Electrify Your Symphony (EYS) is a music education phenomenon that FIRES UP students, teachers, and local communities by injecting a high voltage dose of energy and much-needed funding into a school’s music education program. This intensive experience boosts student self-esteem and motivation, increases school-wide, family and community engagement, and helps raise money for participating schools.
Created by international recording artist, electric violinist, and music education advocate Mark Wood, EYS accomplishes this by having our team of Artist Mentors work with orchestra, choir, and band students to put on real life, real world rock concerts at their schools, local theaters, or arenas; with ticket sales directly benefiting the participating music departments.
The premise is simple – we work with school music directors to design a tailor-made rock symphony makeover culminating in a live performance at the end of the experience. Profits from tickets sold to the event directly benefit the school’s music programs. The musical selections are surprising – and include Wood’s own compositions, plus his exclusive arrangements of classic rock and contemporary music.
In addition to orchestra, EYS offers programs for the school’s choral and/or band departments, that can either be booked as stand-along programs or in conjunction with an orchestral visit.
We seek to awaken student musicians to their highest potential, opening them up to the adventure of music. EYS transforms quiet young musicians into expressive people who can’t wait to learn! Imagine a fifteen year old rushing to music class because they can’t wait to play or sing. Imagine an energized concert hall buzzing with anticipation for music played by these students. EYS makes this happen!
Over the span of a typical visit (tailored completely to YOUR needs), we coach students to express themselves fully through their music and encourage them to let the world know who they really are! Visits range in size from school-centric events to large-scale extravaganzas that include music students from the entire school district. In its larger form, the final concert events have included upwards of 3,000 kids onstage performing in front of 15,000+ people.
This groundbreaking program has students, teachers, parents, and school administrators from around the country applauding and the media always takes note!
Watch clips of EYS on The Today Show, CBS Evening News, and more. See EYS in action on stages that range from school auditoriums to theaters to large arenas.
Visit the Teacher's Lounge to find many of the helpful tools we offer. Click on Testimonials to hear directly from the students, parents, and school officials that have experienced EYS first hand.
meet the team
EYS Founder and President, inventor of the Viper electric violin, and international recording artist Mark Wood brings a level of expertise and knowledge that will enhance and complement the foundation you’ve created for your students. His extensive background in the music industry is an invaluable resource and includes his work with the multi platinum-selling Trans-Siberian Orchestra (having performed for millions of people in their annual sold-out arena tours), Celine Dion, Billy Joel, and countless others.
The true leader in his field, Mark Wood has developed a method that introduces your students to a whole new world of expressing themselves as musicians, and gives them a life-changing experience they will NEVER forget!
ORCHESTRA | MARK WOOD
CONNECT WITH MARK
CHOIR | LAURA KAYE
Vocalist Laura Kaye is Vice President and co-founder of Electrify Your Strings, Mark Wood Rock Orchestra Camp, Wood Violins, and is the powerhouse lead singer in The Mark Wood Experience (Mark’s touring band). Laura and Mark have traveled the world with EYS for over 20 years and continue to expand the scope of their vision with regard to supporting America’s music programs. Over the course of a musical career that began when she was a teenager, Laura has worked with legendary musicians such as James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Lenny Kravitz, Sean Lennon, and more; and is a successful singer/songwriter, recording artist and session vocalist.
Laura adds the Electrify Your Choir component to EYS programs; and coaches choir students to perform in the most authentic and powerful way possible. Her work with the choir as a whole, as well as with selected soloists that are featured during the concert event, she empowers and embraces each students’ unique style; teaching performance techniques, stage presence, and improvisational tips and tricks. But above all, she helps students tap into their individual creative potential. Visit the Choir page for videos, pix, and more.
CONNECT WITH LAURA
BAND | JAVIER STUPPARD
Javier constantly strives for excellence as an eclectic musician. He maintains an active performance schedule in various styles of music including Jazz, Salsa, Orchestral and Commercial. He can be seen performing regularly with the Fresh 2 Def Horns (a premier horn section in Texas), The Nightowls, Jazz Inc. Big Band, JazzBonez and The Minor 4th Trombone Quartet. He is an energetic advocate of music in the Public Schools and has served as an adjudicator, clinician, and mentor. In 2009, Stuppard was appointed Assistant Professor of Music at Huston-Tillotson University. He holds a Bachelors Degree in Music Education from Norfolk State University, a Masters Degree in Trombone Performance and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Trombone Performance at The University of Texas at Austin.
ORCHESTRA | SARAH CHARNESS
Mark first met Sarah Charness at Greenwood Music Camp when she was a student there and he had been invited to do a master class and performance. Fast forward and Sarah now has a thriving career playing her sparkly pink Viper and she truly has the “spark” it takes to be an Artist Mentor with EYS.
Sarah has really become an in-demand part of our team; emphasizing improvisation, composition, and personal expression with the orchestras she works with. Her specialty is contemporary music (pop, hip hop, EDM), but she also loves classic rock and roll and her passionate performances are a joy to watch!
CHOREOGRAPHY | NATHAN BLAKE
World-renowned dancer Nathan Blake creates and leads all of our choreography and he brings out the best performances from all the students he works with.
Movement is a crucial component of elevating the energy of your choir. Enabling singers to sing with their bodies as well as their voice requires many of them to overcome their fears and step out of their comfort zone. This is an essential step in creating better and more confident performers – and people. Through movement, we enable young singers to cultivate a healthy body image, increase self-confidence and express themselves fully and openly. When your singers approach material with this strong and confident perspective, it won’t matter if they are in the front row or back row! Their performances will evolve naturally and soar!
ORCHESTRA | HAYDN VITERA
Haydn Vitera is one of the amazing Artist Mentors on our Electrify Your Strings team. Formerly a member of Grammy-winning Asleep at the Wheel, Haydn is a multi-talented instrumentalist who plays guitar, keys, and most notably, electric violin on his 6-string fretted Viper, introduced by Vitera for the first time into the Latin genre.
Haydn fuses old-school American rock with Latin grooves and instrumentation as a backdrop for pop rock lyrics in Spanish, English, and Spanglish. This Austin-based artist brings an unmistakable Texas edge to Rock Latino, blending congas and horns with slide guitar one minute and orchestral strings with fiery rock violin the next. In addition, Vitera is an extremely versatile vocalist who can growl like David Coverdale or sound as smooth as Luis Miguel.
ORCHESTRA | GREG BYERS
Greg Byers brings such a positive and powerful punch to the EYS team of Artist Mentors. Throughout his lifelong pursuit of music, Greg has overcome countless obstacles in order to become an idiosyncratic performer, composer, educator, and producer. Greg started playing cello at The Family Suzuki School of Rochester, NY at the uncharacteristically young age of 2 1/2. By age sixteen, he was a talented cellist, but was frustrated with the lack of personal expression found in youth orchestras. Thanks to several mentors, Greg began to explore the possibilities of the cello in a jazz context. After beginning the undergraduate program at University of Miami, Greg wanted to officially switch his major to Studio Music & Jazz, which was initially denied because he was a cellist. Shelly Berg, the current Dean of the Frost School of Music, took over in 2007 and saw Greg’s perseverance. In the end Greg became the first person to double major in Instrumental Performance/Studio Music & Jazz on cello and bass, Summa Cum Laude.
ORCHESTRA & CHOIR | VAL VIGODA
Val Vigoda is a valued Artist Mentor on the EYS team. Val is a live-looping, electric violinist, singer/songwriter, and a founding member of the band GrooveLily. She has toured the world with Cyndi Lauper, Joe Jackson and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and is now touring the solo, multimedia, music concert Just Getting Good. Her latest venture is Ernest Shackleton Loves Me, an off-Broadway show that also aired on PBS.
Val studied at Princeton University and has taught at Stanford University, Emerson College, and the Berklee College of Music. She has co-written songs for Disney’s Tinker Bell movies as well as the scores for ten stage stage musicals which have been produced from McCarter Theatre to Off-Broadway. Valerie won the Jonathan Larson Award, the LA Ovation Award for Best Musical, and the ASCAP Richard Rodgers award.
Val lives in LA with her 10-year-old son Mose.
BAND | MICHAEL REY
Michael Rey is a professional trumpet player residing in Austin, Texas. In a city known for its live music, he has carved an impressive path for himself, in performance, instruction, adjudication and studio work.
A founding member of the acclaimed Austin-based horn trio, The Fresh 2 Def Horns, Michael has busied his performance schedule with groups of many varying genres. From the Grammy-award winning Grupo Fantasma to Grammy-awarding winning singer/songwriter Rick Trevino, Michael demonstrates his versatility on a regular basis. In between performances, Michael is a successful recording artist. He can be heard on the entire discography of esteemed Austin group The Nightowls; many tunes feature horn lines on which he collaborated creatively as well.
BASS | PAUL RANIERI
Paul Ranieri was born in New York City and raised in a musical and artistic environment. He started studying music and playing bass at age 11. Influenced early on by the music from cartoons, science fiction and monster movies; and then later by all the greatest rock, funk, and jazz bass players, Paul is now involved in many diverse musical projects and has developed a melodically ferocious and powerful playing style all his own.
DRUMMER | JASON GIANNI
Drummer/Author Jason Gianni is a full time instructor at the prestigious Drummers Collective in New York City, an adjunct professor at the New School in NYC and the chairman of the drum department at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He holds a Master of Music degree from Pennsylvania State University as well as a Bachelor of Music degree from the University of Delaware both in Percussion Performance.
OUR INCREDIBLE OFFICE STAFF
These are the super awesome people who will interact with you on a regular basis as you plan and prepare for your EYS visit. They are here to help YOU!
EYS Education Director
Deb will help you schedule and plan your event, answer any questions you may have about what to expect before, during, and after; and work hand in hand with you to ensure the success of your visit.
Deb, who joined us in May 2017, was a valued and integral part of our team even before she started working here. For 29 years, Deb taught the hormonally challenged English and Math students in her school district (aka Middle School) and, as a parent whose son participated in two major EYS residencies in her community, she volunteered her time to manage every logistical aspect; falling in love with our whole concept in the process.
In addition to providing positive and helpful customer service for all of our companies (EYS, Wood Violins, MWROC, and Mark Wood Music Productions), she supervises the artisans at the Wood Violins shop, handles all our trade show appearances, and generally goes above and beyond at every turn.
Deb lives in Texas with her beloved husband Tim. Her son, Will, who graduated from Berklee College of Music in 2021 now lives in Nashville where he's living the musicians' life. She loves to travel, enjoys discovering new restaurants, but hates to exercise! Haha! Don’t we all!
As a retired educator with a bachelors degree in education and a masters in curriculum and instruction, Deb brings a level of creativity and understanding to every aspect of Mark Wood Music Headquarters!
Director of Sales and Customer Support (for Wood Violins)
Administrative Assistant (for EYS)
Serena is the person who coordinates the shipping of EYS merch (t-shirts, CDs, etc.) and demo instruments to and from your school. She is the ultra helpful presence who will be in touch with you long before your program to make sure all those details (and more) will be taken care of.
She will also be handling everything in the Wood Violins world; from customer support to sales to all sorts of fun projects.
In fact, Serena is on top of so many things around here that it would take a book to list them all. From larger tasks such as being in charge of ordering, cataloguing, and shipping all inventory for EYS, Wood Violins, MWROC, and Mark Wood Music Productions, she also makes sure our office mascots (see below) are taken care of when the rest of the team is on the road.
She loves to dance and exercise and she and her husband have two beautiful young daughters.
OUR OFFICE MASCOTS
In order to run EYS efficiently and effectively, we need as many helpers as we can get. Meet (from left to right) Ziggy, Melody, and Mallomar – aka our “stress relievers” – who take turns trying on new merch items, testing instruments, sitting in our chairs, editing our documents, sharing our meals, and getting fur in as many places as they possibly can.