Saturday, September 19, 2009

A Night at the “Instrument Petting Zoo”

Cellist and teacher Jonathan Velsey helps Claire Walker with her fingering. (Click to enlarge the image.)

A squeaking, blurbing, squawking, hooting, whistling, clarinet, tuba, cello, violin, flute, sax and drum delight of a night, the annual “instrument petting zoo”—as one school staffer phrased it, and he might have placed emphasis on “zoo”—brought parents and school kids from all Arlington to Thomas Jefferson Middle School’s basement Tuesday.

Students tried out, tried on, tested, stood, stared, bowed, fingered, slid, plucked, blew, and—occasionally—listened through a one-stop-shopping night of orchestral abundance. Since Internet storage is cheap, I’ll add that they laughed, measured, chatted, scratched, bleated and boomed.

Billed as the “Instrumental Music Information Night,” the Arlington Public Schools event was aimed primarily at 4th and 5th graders who can join the schools’ orchestras and bands this year.

School orchestra and band leaders with upper-class students, gave the elementary school kids quick lessons on how to hold, blow or strike the instrument in order to fit the student to the right size—a full-, or half-sized violin, for instance.

Sales and rental information was also available (rentals going first, and at reduced prices, to the families who need financial assistance most). Students handed in forms at the end of the night with their top three preferences. The schools make the choices about who gets which.

Christopher Wall, a 4th grader at Taylor Elementary School, was new to the school and the opportunity to get these music lessons, his mom, Beth, said. She added, he wanted to come to try the violin and the “kello.”

It’s a 30 second video of the night, enjoy:

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