Go Ask Mom

The Relative Pitch offers young performers safe, welcoming place to play

The Relative Pitch will offer its second session for young musicians and performers this Sunday at the Broad Street Cafe in Durham. Find out more about the program and the two moms who started it.

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Kim Arrington and Rissi Palmer of The Relative Pitch
Sarah Lindenfeld Hall

The Relative Pitch will offer its second session for young musicians and performers this Sunday at the Broad Street Cafe in Durham.

The open mic night for kids ages 18 and under was started by Kim Arrington and Rissi Palmer, both veteran performers, teachers and local moms, who wanted to provide kids with a safe and comfortable place to perform.
Doors open at 4 p.m., Sunday, for the performance, which runs from 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Go to The Relative Pitch's website for details on how kids can get involved and perform. The next open mic night is set for Dec. 9.

I checked in with Arrington and Palmer this week on what they do and why they started The Relative Pitch. Here's our Q&A:

Go Ask Mom: Why did you want to start The Relative Pitch? Did you see a need?
Rissi: I got the idea to start The Relative Pitch early this summer. I started working with some young singers through The Grace Note and was looking for places for them to sing outside of the annual recital. I realized that there wasn’t anything that was free or wasn’t competition based. I decided to contact my friend Kim, who is a seasoned and well known artist here in the Triangle who has a background working with kids, and see if she was interested. We both immediately thought of the Broad Street Café as the perfect venue because of its family friendly atmosphere as well as the great stage.
Kim: When Rissi called, I had just finished teaching at a Rock Band camp in Carrboro for 11- to 15-years-olds. The kids told me they had nowhere to perform locally, and adult open mics were too scary. We want to teach the kids through The Relative Pitch that indie artists can create their own solutions, for themselves and their communities.
GAM: What's your background working with kids?
Rissi: Outside of wrangling my 17-month-old on a daily basis, I have been teaching private performance voice lessons for the last year at The Grace Note music school in North Raleigh. I find that the children’s excitement for music is a huge inspiration and motivator for me in my own career.
Kim: I have been running an arts-learning business for the past eight years. I’ve taught thousands of K-12 students every year through teaching poetry, playwriting, songwriting, and music performance in the schools, camps, and arts organizations that reinforces the North Carolina Standard Course of Study. Besides that, I have a 5-year-old and 10-year-old whom are ravenous about everything musical.
GAM: What was the first open mic night like? Who came out to perform?
Rissi: I don’t know about Kim, but I was a ball of nerves! We had seven young performers in all, four of which are students of mine. They were so confidant and put on a great show. It was the first time a lot of them have ever sung with a band and they did a fantastic job. Kim and I got to sing together, which was a lot of fun.
Kim: Rissi held the nervous energy for the first event, and I think I held the “it’s gonna be just fine” energy. That’s why partnership works. Next time, I could be the nerves. The Relative Pitch is the right name for our gathering because parents, aunts, big brothers came out to support their youth performer. When I was growing up singing at four years old, I had support. It’s the right thing to do to let kids sing with a house band, and feel the glow of sharing it with the public.
GAM: What's your goal for the program?
Rissi: Ultimately, I’d love it to become an institution here for young people, something that is synonymous with music scene in the Triangle. Kim and I are planning a songwriting camp for summer 2013 and The Relative Pitch is a way for the campers to showcase their songs. We want to introduce youth hosts eventually as well as possibly having the house band become all 18 and under musicians.
Kim: I want to provide this space while I can. I want kids to know that being a performer is possible, and that they can create their own opportunities to share art.
GAM: How do you see The Relative Pitch growing over time?
Rissi: Kim and I are both working musicians and both have albums coming out in the next few months (Best Day Ever for me in December 2012 and Getting II Yes in the early spring 2013 for Kim), so I hope that it will become self sustaining. We both plan to remain a part of it and hope to add more young musicians to the behind the scenes and onstage duties.
Kim: I want to be in the moment with The Relative Pitch. I think along the way, it will tell us how it wants to change. Teaching kids to perform is reminding them of what they already know. I’ll always find a way to do that.


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