Anne Harris jamming on her violin with bandmates Ryan Carney (left) and Ernie Hendrickson (right). (Laney Toffler)
Anne Harris jamming on her violin with bandmates Ryan Carney (left) and Ernie Hendrickson (right).

Laney Toffler

Anne Harris cultivates community through music, collaboration, and improvisation

March 8, 2023

On March 8, American Roots artist and local musician Anne Harris showcased her original music during an intimate performance in the band room. Harris, who is a singer, violinist and mandolinist, performed with Ernie Hendrickson, guitar, and Ryan Carney, bass and cello, during fourth period. 

From eight years old through high school, Harris was classically trained on the violin. She attended the University of Michigan for theater, where she took a step back from violin. Harris’s eclectic musical taste of funk, r&b, rock, folk music, and gospel music influenced her greatly, and she rediscovered the violin as an agent of improvisational expression after college.

“I made it my mission to not read music so I could learn how to improvise,” Harris said. “The thought of just going up and playing without music as a violin player that was trained classically was so scary to me, but I was so excited by the process of learning to replay my instrument differently.”

Harris used her influences to inspire her, and she ended up falling in love with improvisation.

“I started copying what guitar players would do, and I listened to music that wasn’t violin music and I would make up stuff to it,” Harris said. “That’s how I started jamming, and it turned into a career.”

Harris’s bandmate Ryan Carney shared the key sentiment of how accepting opportunities with open arms can change the direction of your career or life, just like it did for Harris. 

Anne Harris and senior Payton Bryk improvising together to her song, “Everybody Gotta Rise Up.” (Laney Toffler)

“You never know what’s going to enter your life, or when it’s going to enter your life — be it musically, or non-musically — so, as long as your door is open, let it in,” Carney said. 

It is clear that Harris and her bandmates live by that belief, as they invited senior and ThisIsYork reporter Payton Bryk to play with them, joining on the saxophone. Bryk had recently interviewed Harris for a story, and they instantly connected during the interview. 

“After she found out that I was an aspiring musician, she invited me to play with her, without ever hearing me play,” Bryk said. 

With very little time even introducing themselves in person, Harris’s band alongside Bryk jammed together without any rehearsal to Harris’s song, “Everybody Gotta Rise Up.”

“That spontaneous invitation and blind trust was just like the improvised music that we both were playing on stage,” Bryk said. 

Harris described music as a language that anyone can be fluent in, which is why she feels the energy of it creates instant community and understanding.

“I think music is one of the most powerful forms of energy,” Harris said. “It literally is energy; sound is vibration. So, when you gather together with people, and you all are taking in the same vibration, that’s a time when everyone is vibrating at the same frequency. That’s how we raise the frequency of consciousness.”

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