Musical Revolution

Violin is hardly the type of instrument you'd think would drive kids
wild.

But then you haven't been around Mark Wood when he plays "The Viper."

The Pied Piper has nothing on this guy, CBS News correspondent Mika Brzezinski quips.

"I loved the violin so much I figured I'd wanna completely destroy it and reinvent it," Wood says.

Wood wants to turn a whole new generation onto violin. In doing so -- he's becoming a favorite instrument for teachers looking to electrify their music programs.

"I just don't go in there and squeak a few tunes and leave. We blow their heads off," Wood says.

The weapon of choice is the instrument he invented and custom builds. Instead of four strings -- this violin has seven.

"E, A, D and G -- which are your violin strings -- and then we have a Viola C, a cello and a bass," Wood explains.

The sound is more Stratocaster than Stradivarius. And that's hooking kids who wouldn't think of picking up a string instrument at all.

The praise is endless as one student calls the violin "wicked awesome."

"Like he just makes me want to play music," another student says.

Wood follows up his one-man shows with student workshops like the one he did at Cinnaminson High School outside Philadelphia. In a beat, the Beatles gives way to the blues.

Despite his popularity, Wood knows that members of the classical violin community have issues with his style.

"That's always the challenge because whenever somebody pushes the envelope forward people think that we're changing it and making them look bad and that's not the case," Wood says, but admits, "I'm changing the whole ground rules."

Wood's only demand is that students try to improvise.

"It's scary -- I'm not going to lie," Lydia Marasa-Scafidi, one of Wood's students, says. "I've played classical music for 11 ½ years and now to come in and play blues and rock 'n' roll -- it's an awesome experience."

With students, Woods says he tries to "hold their hand. Hold my arm around them, walk them through the door and pull back without them even knowing it so that they fly," Wood says.

After three months of training, Wood and the students perform a rock
concert. The box office profits go right back into the school district's music department.

"If the music is exciting for the kids and the audience, they will keep coming back. The passion of music is what motivates and moves these kids to do unbelievable things," Wood says.

More than 30 schools are now working with Mark Wood. As for Cinnaminson High School -- it expects to raise more than $10,000 at next month's concert.
  • Sean Alfano

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