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December 18, 2015

Black Violin breaks down music stereotypes


Two former high school orchestra nerds use their love of Bach and Beethoven to break down stereotypes by reimagining classical music and connecting with new audiences.

Violist Wil Baptiste and violinist Kev Marcus tour the country as Black Violin, a group that performs classical and contemporary music on stage with hip-hop tracks and drums for backup. Both men are black, 6’2” and hope to show younger audiences that how you look does not make a difference when it comes to music.

“If you look at us, we don’t look like your typical violinists,” said violist Wil Baptiste. “We talk to the kids all the time, and the kids love us just because we can relate to them, so to speak. And that’s what it’s all about, breaking stereotypes.”

The two musicians met at a performing arts high school in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Both went through rigorous musical training that taught them to love Mozart and the other great composers, but between classes and after school they listened to rap and hip-hop.

“We studied classical, but we lived rap music,” Marcus said.

Their new album, “Stereotypes”, showcases the bridge between genres of music usually thought of as being worlds apart.

Baptiste and Marcus hope that kids and people of all ages will hear their music and say, “oh, my God, this looks incredible. It sounds incredible. It looks impossible. Maybe I can do this with literature, art, science, or anything that I have a passion for.”


stereotype — a widely held belief that all people or things with a particular characteristic are the same

Warm up questions
  1. What is a stereotype?
  2. Why do you think people stereotype?
  3. What comes to mind when you think of classical and hip-hop music?
Critical thinking questions
  1. Why does Black Violin challenge stereotypes about classical music and race? Explain.
  2. Can you describe a time when you realized that you had stereotyped a person or a thing?
  3. What is your reaction to the young boy at the end of the video calling out to the Black Violin musicians that one day he would play alongside them?
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