The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music preview: Next Saturday, Art Fair on the Square and WYSO will offer kids an instrument “petting zoo” and a chance to learn about and try out an orchestral instrument

July 3, 2010
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By Jacob Stockinger

In case you don’t think visual art and musical art mix well, here’s a chance to be proven wrong – and to set your children on a path toward the lifelong fulfillment of playing music.

Plus, some adults might also learn a thing or two about various orchestral instruments – strings, winds and brass. Imagine “petting” a violin or an oboe, a flute or a horn – and getting the chance to play it. (No pianos or singing, as I understand it.)

But you have to get planning.

Next Saturday, July 10, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the King Street corner of the Capitol Square, Wisconsin Public Radio and the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra will host an Instrument Petting Zoo in the children’s section of the annual huge Art Fair on the Square (below), the annual majorfundraiser for the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art that usually draws up to 200,000 to Madison’s Capitol Square over the weekend.

The unique instrument petting zoo features members of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestras and Wisconsin Public Radio Classical Music hosts in a hands-on activity that introduces children, both young and old, to musical instruments.

Children of all ages are invited to see, touch, hear, and play the instruments under the tutelage of Wisconsin Youth Symphony players (below), who come from middle school and high school around the area.

You can also mix and mingle with radio hosts for Wisconsin Public Radio, including Norman Gilliland, Stephanie Elkins and Lori Skelton.

The Ear thinks this is a great idea and a terrific program that allows children to be exposed not only to visual art and crafts but also to music — and through their peers. It is especially welcome at a time when there is less music coverage in the media and there are various cutbacks in arts program in many public schools.

And maybe the way that something about the piano just spoke to something deep inside me when I was eight — I still don’t know what or why —  that’s the way a string or wind or brass instrument will speak to some other young boy or girl.

For more information about the art fair and its various activities, here is a link to the art fair (look under kids’ area for the zoo but also check out other things including artists, art and food)):

Here is a link to WYSO with its impressive history and greta photos:

And here is a link to Wisconsin Public Radio:

If you go, let me know what you thought.

I’m especially interested in reactions and comments from children, but would also like to know what parents, WYSO members and WPR radio hosts thought about the event.

Did you have a good experience?

The Ear wants to hear.

Posted in Classical music

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