Two fifth-grade musicians top Cal's number


January 24, 1996|By Pat Brodowski | Pat Brodowski,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

TWO FIFTH-GRADERS have broken Cal Ripken's record -- with a flute and a clarinet.

In September, after Cal played in his 2,131st consecutive baseball game, Karen Rogers, the instrumental music teacher at Spring Garden Elementary school in Hampstead, had an inspiration.

She announced that the student who could match Cal's record by playing one minute on his or her instrument for each of the shortstop's games would be the school hero for a day.

Last week, there were two heroes, who were lauded with cupcakes, T-shirts and assorted gifts from local music merchants.

Jamie Harrison had played the flute for 2,450 minutes, and Jennifer Gehret had played clarinet for 2,260 minutes. They'd gone beyond Cal Ripken's record in just about 122 days, finishing during the winter break.

At lunch Thursday, the girls gave away 50 celebratory cupcakes and received gifts presented by Mrs. Rogers. Hess Music of Manchester gave each the score for flute or clarinet from the movie "Pocahontas," plus colorful T-shirts illustrating their instruments. Each girl received a cocoa mug inscribed with musical notations from Coffey's Music of Westminster, and Stu's Music of Westminster gave them gift certificates.

A surprise gift came from Mrs. Rogers. She'd had T-shirts printed with a standing portrait photograph of each student musician in action.

After Jamie and Jennifer had finished the challenge, several classmates got into the act, too. Michael Guderjohn played alto saxophone for 2,270 minutes, Aislinn Sowash played clarinet for 2,000 minutes, and Laura Smith played clarinet for 1,900 minutes.

"With all the snow, I guess they found more time to practice," said Mrs. Rogers.

Typically, children practice 20 minutes at home every other day. School rehearsals and lessons, which total 90 minutes per week, didn't count for the Cal Ripken challenge. Students had 122 days from the start of the contest until Jan. 1, which meant an average of at least 18 minutes of practice each day.

"I started right when we came back to school," in September, said Jaime. "I play about 40 minutes a day."

Jennifer said, "I practice every day, and it all adds up. I do at least 30 minutes, whenever it fits my schedule."

Her favorite piece from "Pocahontas" is "Color of the Wind," which she began playing in band this year, said Jennifer.

Ice sculpture

"I've always done something creative; that's why I like to cook," said chef Timothy Euler of Hampstead. He stepped back, chain saw in hand, from a 300-pound block of ice. It stood about 40 inches tall and 9 inches deep.

Chips and chunks of ice had fallen to the kitchen floor at his restaurant, Timothy's, as he carved the ice into a half-moon with twin peaks. Eventually it became a marlin, arching above waves.

The sculpture was used as a centerpiece for an evening banquet at the restaurant.

Mr. Euler has done about 100 similar projects since graduating as a chef from the Baltimore International Culinary Institute in 1989.

"I ran a hotel for Stouffer's, where one of the chefs could do an ice carving in 10 minutes with a chain saw," he said.

"He was sick once, and needed five ice carvings. He talked me through them," and Mr. Euler's sideline was born.

After shelving the chain saw, he began to jab at the ice with a nasty-looking six-pronged ice pick.

"I like using the pick because it's more of an artistic expression, rather than jagged cuts [from the saw]," he said. "It takes about an hour for the main form to take shape."

Mr. Euler provides ice carvings free for in-house parties. Commissions that require delivery cost $150.

"About an hour into the party, the carving really takes form, because ice melts in a linear fashion. The beauty of it is when it melts," Mr. Euler said.

Mr. Euler's repertoire of ice carvings includes dogs, elephants, swans and birds for weddings, baskets to hold steamed shrimp ("It keeps them nice and cold," he said), and free-form sculptures with pockets to hold sprays of fresh flowers. He has done corporate emblems and, for NASA, a space shuttle that won a competition.

A Thanksgiving turkey was particular challenging.

"That was the most difficult. The fan tail, like the NBC symbol, was down to an inch thick," he said.

"The trick when carving is to not cut off too much at once, because you can't put it back," Mr. Euler said.

Before carving begins, the ice is allowed to "sweat" at room temperature until all frost disappears, so that it won't shatter as the sawing and shaving begins.

Imperfections discovered when the frost clears, such as bubbles of air or deep cracks, can change the design from the start,

because both can cause the finished work to fall apart.

Colored ice is made of colored water mixed with baking soda so that the color won't bleed when melting begins.

Having enough 100 percent clear, carving-quality ice is important, so typically 150- or 300-pound blocks are used.

"You need enough ice to allow for mistakes," said Mr. Euler. "All blocks of ice are different. Each has its own temperament. You always need a little extra."

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