A Medford Eagle Scout candidate who believes classical music rocks brought his message about the benefits of soothing beats Friday to families at On Track's Day Treatment Center.
In an effort to achieve scouting's highest award, Nicholas Comerchero, 16, brought a cadre of like-minded friends to help him tout the benefits of listening to classical music, and specifically to share his love for his own favorite composer, J.S. Bach.
The clean-cut group of home-schooled teens held their presentation before more than 50 attentive men, women and children who attended the Friday afternoon event.
Comerchero kicked off the listen-and-learn section of the lecture by explaining how music can have a powerful effect on the mind, body and soul.
"Music makes us feel different ways," he said, inviting brother-sister duo, Aaron and Sarah Klein to first play a Bach aria and then a minuet.
"When I am anxious, depressed or nervous, I rely upon Bach," Comerchero told the crowd.
An audience member, Natasha Smith, 23, noted that she typically listens to country music. But as the notes from the siblings' violins soared in the small venue, babies stopped crying, toddlers stopped wiggling and even the parents stopped fidgeting, she said.
"It calmed everyone down," Smith said.
Another student, Sam Moore, 16, presented the results of his research regarding the physiological effects of classical music versus rock music.
Moore said everything from decibel levels to back beats can create either a soothing effect or trigger a "flight or fight" reflex.
Classical music's emphasis on the one beat soothes nerves, Moore said studies have shown.
Playing classical music in stores has proven to increase sales. It has even improved the time mice require to maneuver through a maze, he said.
Conversely, the majority of rock music drives on the two-beat, Moore said.
This creates an "unnatural stimulant" that jangles the nerve, overworks the adrenal system, and adds 20 minutes to the mice's time in the maze, he said.
"I love classical music," Comerchero said, inviting the crowd to ask questions.
One of first requests was for the Klein siblings to play another song. The pair launched into a rousing jazz tune called "The Joke." The duo watched one another and tapped out time with their toes as the rollicking piece carried their fingers flying. Parents nodded their heads and toddlers bobbed in the aisles as the tune alternated between fast and slow tempos.
When asked if the impromptu encore was on the first or second beat, no one seemed to know, including the players or the presenter.
"I was just glad Aaron and Sarah played," Comerchero said, adding he has had limited exposure to rock, rap or other types of music.
"For me, I would just prefer to listen to something classical," he said.
At the close of Comerchero's presentation, his mother and sister distributed 40 sets of new and used personal CD players and J.S. Bach CDs to the crowd.
Comerchero collected the donated items at his church specifically to distribute to On Track families, said his mother, Veronika Comerchero.
Due to the unconventional nature of her son's Eagle Scout Project, Veronika said, he had some challenges getting it approved by the scouting council.
"Most projects in our area involve doing physical labor outdoors — building benches, planting trees, maintaining trails," she said. "But Nicholas was really determined to do this because he loves classical music."
Nicholas said he hopes the project is deemed a worthwhile fulfillment of the Boy Scout oath. He plans to write up a project report of the day's presentation and send it to the Eagle Scout review board, he said.
"I'm thankful for the people who came, and that the audience was receptive," Comerchero said.
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.