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Stephanie "Kira" Dye

Lifting spirits and raising money with music

Do you play a musical instrument? Have you ever thought to use your talent to raise money for a charity or two? Stephanie "Kira" Dye has been playing the cello since she was 5-years-old. For the past few years, she has raised thousands of dollars for charities in her home town of St. Louis, MO! Read her interview and find out what else this future soloist does for fun.

What grade are you in?

8th grade.

What town do you live in?

St. Louis, Missouri.

How old are you?


You’ve been playing the cello since Kindergarten. Tell us who got you started and what keeps you going.

My mom and dad got me started. I wasn’t a very good Kindergarten student and my dad suggested that I might like to learn how to play an instrument. So I said, "Violin!" We sat in on a violin lesson, and then my dad suggested I sit in on a cello lesson. It was love at first sight. After that, I improved a lot in Kindergarten and have been an honor roll student ever since.

Tell us the story of how you decided to start playing your cello on the street and donating money to charity.

On Saturdays, my family and I would walk through the city before cello group lessons and we would see people playing on the sidewalk with hats filled with money. One day, I said, "Hey, I can do that!" So that’s how I started playing on the street. I was nine-years-old.

Stephanie Kira Dye performing to raise money for charityWhat are the charities you chose to raise money for, and why did you pick them?

I raise money for St. Louis Children’s Hospital and for the Sierra Club. I chose the Sierra Club because I love animals and the environment and I want to help protect nature and clean the air. I chose Children’s Hospital because my mom works for the hospital and has told me about the budget problems there, so I wanted to help fix that problem.

How much money have you raised for charity since you started?

Since I’ve started, I have raised over $2,300.

What do you want to do when you get older? Why?

When I get older, I want to be a famous solo musician because I love to play my cello and I believe that with hard work, I can become like Yo-yo Ma and Jacqueline DuPré.

What type of music do you like to play? Why?

When I’m playing on the street, I play Irish tunes and Disney songs. Everyone has a favorite type of music – jazz, rock, country, rap, classical – but the music I play on the street is something that everyone can enjoy, especially the kids. I also like classical music.

Tell us what a typical day is like for you.

On a school day, I get up around 6 am and leave home by 6:45. School starts at 7:15, but the teachers don’t take attendance until 7:35, when classes begin, so I talk with my friends and the cool band director in the band room. Classes are about 40 minutes long, with eight periods and lunch. Everyday has a different schedule, and by the time I know which class to go to next, the school year’s over! My core classes are Language Arts (English), Geometry, Physical Sciences, and Civics. We also have one "Exploratory" class each quarter; "Exploratory" classes include Art, Home Economics, Industrial Technology, and Computers. I also have band and dance twice a week. Finally, school ends at 2:15. On some days, I stay after school to play with the school’s symphonic wind ensemble (I play the baritone horn). On the other days, I take a cab home. I work on homework and practice my cello for at least an hour and go to bed around 9 pm. I only have time to watch one or two hours of television a week and on weekend days I practice my cello for three hours and practice my hammered dulcimer for half an hour.

What kinds of things do you do with your friends for fun?

My friends and I love to hang out. We go almost everywhere together - the 
mall, the movies, the yearly carnivals and Renaissance fairs, or to someone's house to just spend the day together talking. We also email each other a lot and 
sometimes we talk on the phone. We always have lots of fun.

What kinds of things do you and your family do to stay healthy?

My family always reads food labels. We don’t buy anything with the words "partially hydrogenated" or "high fructose" or "cottonseed" in the ingredient list. My mom’s rule of thumb is, "If you can’t say it, don’t buy it." I work out on an exercise machine twice a week. We eat salmon at least once a week. We grow a lot of our own produce. We also have a small orchard of cherries, apples, peaches, plums, pears, elderberries, and persimmons. We rarely go out to eat – maybe once a month. My dad reads about nutrition and prepares three or four healthy, but not always tasty, meals each week. He also makes his own bread. We take vitamins and use herbal remedies for minor ailments.

Tell us about the science project you did in school that was different from everyone else’s.

For my school science project, I built a theremin. A theremin is an early electronic musical instrument. And it’s played without being touched! There are two antennae on it – one for pitch and one for volume. When you move your hand closer and closer to the pitch antennae, the pitch gets higher and higher. When you move your hand closer to the volume antennae, the volume gets softer and softer. Why? There is an electromagnetic field around the antennae. When your hand enters the magnetic field, you can change the pitch and volume of the note the instrument is playing. For my science project, I wanted to find out if there was a mathematical relationship between the pitch of the note and how far away the hand was from the pitch antennae. My project won a red ribbon in the district science fair.

If you could have one wish, what would it be?

Do wishes have expiration dates? I probably wouldn’t use my wish. I have nothing to wish for, because the wish may indeed come true, but what happens because of it may not be good.

Who do you look up to?

I look up to my mom and my dad. They encourage me to keep going and they help me with my problems. They are hard workers but still make time to play and joke around.

Content last reviewed July 01, 2006
Page last updated July 01, 2006

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office on Women's Health.