Page 7 - Common Chords Grant Rapids Final Report

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highlights: engaging young people
page 7
“I‘m sure it made more of an impression than we know. Maybe twenty
years from now, one of them will be up on that same stage.”
- Mary Kosak, program officer at the Blandin Foundation,
commenting on a Kinder Konzert at the Reif Center
Nearly 400 energetic preschool students, along with their parents and
teachers, took in a
Kinder Konzert
at the Reif Center. Students were
part of the Grand Rapids area’s Invest Early program, a major initiative
of the Blandin Foundation to address discrepancies in kindergarten
readiness. A small ensemble of musicians from the Minnesota
Orchestra took turns introducing themselves and their instruments–a
variety of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion–and then
performed several pieces together. A narrator tied the different
components together, giving the young audience plenty of opportunities
to “get their wiggles out” with dancing and clapping and also pointing
out when to “hold their sounds inside.” Similar performances took place at the Grand Rapids Public Library
for an audience of about 70 parents and young children and again for an intergenerational group of seniors and
preschool students at the Itasca County Family YMCA.
Minnesota Orchestra brass and string players made visits to six public
schools throughout the Common Chords week. Approximately 2,000
students participated in these events. Orchestra musicians were
greeted with enthusiasm by elementary school students at all
four of
the Grand Rapids area’s elementary schools
. Students encountered
musicians in grade-level presentations, where each musician
demonstrated their instrument, answered students’ questions and
presented students with musician trading cards.
Musicians also performed for all-school assemblies, with students listening
closely and eager to ask questions. At one elementary school, students
presented a “musical gift” to the Orchestra’s string ensemble, singing “My
Country ‘Tis of Thee” along with the quartet; it was a magical moment for the
students, their music teacher and the musicians.
Visits by the ensembles to
Elkington Middle School
were marked by fervent hand-raising of students when invited to
ask questions. These middle-schoolers, some of whom were just starting to play an instrument, were especially
interested in the extremes of the instruments (for example, how low the tuba could sound), the work that goes into
playing a brass instrument and the life of a musician.
Band students from
Grand Rapids High School
heard a performance by the brass quintet in the Reif Center
auditorium, listening intently to a program that included selections from
West Side Story
. Students asked questions
about when musicians started on their instruments and what type of training they received after high school. High
school choir students participated in a highly charged rehearsal with the string and brass ensembles, as a dress
rehearsal to their performance in
Finlandia
, the Orchestra’s encore at the final concert. The students were sworn to
secrecy so that the performance would be a surprise, and they were nervous and excited as they sang along with
sample instrumentation from the Orchestra and conductor Sarah Hicks.
Photo: John Bauer