Education feature: Miniature Mozart

CNJ staff photo: Gabriel Monte Sarah Jo Samora, 8, of Clovis plays Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” on her guitar Wednesday afternoon at her home.

By Gabriel Monte: CNJ staff writer

Sarah Jo Samora balanced an electric guitar that was almost her size while playing the opening chords to Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water.”

The Highland Elementary fourth-grader, who has been learning to play the guitar for a year and the piano for two years, was one of 16 New Mexico students selected to perform a song they composed at Albuquerque’s National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Journal Theater in September.

The concert is part of the Hey Mozart! New Mexico project for New Mexico elementary students 12 and under.

The New Mexico Symphony Orchestra will provide musical accompaniment for the songs.

“It made me feel happy, and I (can’t) wait till September,” said Sarah Jo about being selected for the performance.

According to a Hey Mozart! New Mexico press release, 250 New Mexico students submitted compositions for the project.

Ranchvale Elementary School fourth-grader Abigail Bugg was one of 18 students who received an honorable mention.

Titled “Haunted House,” Sarah Jo said she wrote the song during Halloween and was inspired by a Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen movie. She said she wrote the lyrics for song and her music teacher Karen Worthington helped her with the melody.

Music has been a part of her life since she was a baby, according to Sarah Jo’s mother, Amanda. She said she wrote and sang lullabies to her daughter.

“Music was the only way to calm her,” she said.

At 3, Amanda Samora said her daughter was putting tunes together.

Sarah Jo said her mother influenced her desire to play to music.

“Her mom’s a good singer, she’s won competitions all around the city,” said Sarah Jo’s father, Cecil Samora.

Aside from writing music, Sarah Jo and her sister Saylor ride motorcycles and jet skis and play with tools at her father’s shop, according to Cecil Samora.

“They’re the boys I never had and the girls I’ll always have,” he said.

Sarah Jo said she isn’t nervous, having performed on stage in school and church talent shows.

Amanda Samora said her daughters usually put on talent shows at home — including Sunday for her birthday, she said.

“I grew up at her age starting a love for music,” she said. “It’s exciting have my own child loving music as much as I do.”