Kerry Fenster

Tales About Us

My name is Kerry Fenster and my background in music goes way back to when I was under ten years old, singing alongside my Mom at the piano in our home. My Mother, a piano player and singer (she was one third of ‘The Preludes’ along with Laura Nyro) was always playing and singing and I would regularly join in, whether at the piano or just singing along.

On a more personal note, I’ve had Poland Syndrome – the name of a fairly rare physical condition – since birth. This is a congenital, non-chromosomal condition which disrupts the physical development, usually of one limb, and the respective pectoral muscle. In my case, I have a slightly thinner right arm and hypo-genesis (under-development) of the right fingers, which means my right hand and fingers aren’t fully formed, as well as not having a right pectoral muscle. Not only have I never viewed my physical deformity as a disability – nor have I ever seen this as a handicap – but also it’s actually helped me to thrive in all areas of my life.

It has taught me to be afraid of nothing and to work hard for what’s important. I have found that my overcoming of this disability has put me in a rare position to be a positive example to others who are, or feel, somehow disabled by any physical or mental incapacity.

Always having this love of music, when I was six years old I wanted to play the cello in the orchestra in elementary school. The music teacher actually discouraged me and told me to try something that would be easier for me to play. I took this as an offense – and a challenge – and decided that despite this, I was definitely going to learn the cello, which I did. And, of course, I loved it, and played cello in the orchestra the whole school year.

That experience kicked off a life long relationship playing several instruments, including cello, trombone, and baritone horn and even developing my voice. Then, at the age of ten, it all changed when I decided to play electric bass, and thus, more contemporary music.

Soon thereafter, I settled down with the electric and the acoustic guitar, which vastly opened up songwriting capabilities I had always wanted to explore.

Soon thereafter, I settled down with the electric and the acoustic guitar, which vastly opened up songwriting capabilities I had always wanted to explore.

In any event, during the years I spent traveling and learning about the world, I realized what music meant to me and what it brings out in others. An amazing thing happened when I worked at a summer camp in the Berkshires of Massachusetts some years back. This wasn’t just any camp, but the very same one I’d spent five consecutive summers at when I was a boy. That experience broke new ground for me, as it was not only the first time I began working with groups of kids, but also playing and writing songs with them.

Shortly thereafter, I moved to Los Angeles, and one of my first jobs was working as a counselor at a city funded afterschool teen center. I had played in bands for a few years and I had started teaching guitar privately. I also started bringing my guitar and amplifier down to the teen center and encouraged the students to bring anything they played, too. One of them was a 14-year-old drumming prodigy and we had some great fun in jam sessions together. Once again, I found working with music and people rewarding.

Kerry Fenster

Soon thereafter, I took a job at The Help Group – a school for people with autism – where the ABA method of behavior modification was employed. Though technically hired as a teaching assistant, I still frequently brought my guitar to the school and found many students responding positively to it, especially, when I would play upbeat, welcoming songs to the students as they arrived in the morning. In so doing, I saw the joy on their faces. Some of the other staff even told me that their students were more agreeable to coming to school when I would play. That feedback, along with many other positive experiences there, inspired me to write a series of songs devoted to the students.

The school catered to all grades, from nursery level to graduation, and even a transition program up to twenty-two year olds. I worked primarily with moderate functioning high school students and over the last few years there, I had also been working privately with many young adults with various developmental disabilities other than Autism, including ED (emotional disorders), Down’s Syndrome, and ID (intellectual disabilities).

As an adult, I now have been teaching guitar lessons to children and to adults for fifteen years. A few years back, after I’d become familiar with the population and the language associated with these conditions and these individuals, I was inspired to write, play and perform music relevant to the Autistic community.

I envisioned the very first Autism advocacy Rock N’ Roll band. Thus, ‘The Behaviors’ was created. This was the moniker given to the idea of a band playing music that teaches and advocates for people with developmental disorders. I then got to work on writing songs that I felt were educational in nature, as well as entertaining.

Ultimately, four of these songs became the original tracks on the “Songs About Us” EP, which is now finally available here, and the seed that was planted with “The Behaviors” grew to a flower that eventually blossomed into “Muzic School” !

Ultimately, four of these songs became the original tracks on the “Songs About Us” EP, which is now finally available here, and the seed that was planted with “The Behaviors” grew to a flower that eventually blossomed into “Muzic School” !