September 24, 2006

Music Field Trip

We finished our unit on music last week--it wasn't nearly as intensive as the first week, but it was still enjoyable. Charis continued with a bit of piano practice (she really isn't happy about only playing on the black keys right now, but I guess she'll get over it) and added another little song to her practice time.

The highlight of our unit was getting to attend a free live concert! The Community College of Southern Nevada hosted its 5th annual New Music Festival, and students were invited to hear a sampling of music during a 45-minute performance. I figured it would be PERFECT for the kids--not too long, but an opportunity to hear a variety of instruments. I did prepare them for the fact that they would not see a full orchestra, as we had read (and re-read) some favorite library books about all the instruments in an orchestra. Tobin was especially disappointed that we never saw a conductor. :-)

However, I was happy with the performance and what the children were able to see and hear. The first number was a clarinet solo, combined with pre-recorded electronic music. Very interesting. At just over 6 minutes, it was a bit long for my squirmy Tobin, but Arden (who was on my lap for the whole performance) sat wide-eyed and still.

The second number was a solo by a mezzo-soprano, accompanied by a pianist. She sang the children's poem "The Owl and the Pussycat," and the children were QUITE amused. She had said at the beginning that it was OK to laugh because it was supposed to be funny in parts, but I suspect that the majority of the children were laughing because they have never before heard, ahem, such, well, "soprano-ish" music rather than because they appreciated the humor of the poem. It was indeed amusing to hear a rendition of the poem in more of an operatic style.

Third, we heard a duet of musicians from the Netherlands, one of whom played the bass clarinet (very cool!), and the other of whom played the alto sax. This was also a great number, and all the kids really enjoyed it.

The piano duet that followed was interesting to me, but I think the discordant sounds (reflecting anger and frustration at a friend's death) put Charis off a bit. She didn't seem as impressed as I thought she might at seeing professional pianists.

The last number was my favorite by far. It was a percussion trio, and we were all invited to the stage (all 30 of us in the auditorium!) to watch. The men stood around a single kettle drum, and attached to the sides were their own bongos and gongs. It was a fabulous number, and I enjoyed watching the expressions on our kids' faces as they listened. I thought this would be by far their favorite thing, but when, as we were walking back to the van, I asked them what their favorite part of the performance was, here were their answers:

Arden: "I liked the saxophone."
Charis: "I liked the Owl and the Pussycat song."
Tobin: "My favorite was the--what did the really tall man play? The long thing?"
Me: "The bass clarinet."
Tobin: "I liked the bass clarinet!"

Wow! I'm just happy that they each picked something they enjoyed, and the fact that it didn't happen to be the very last (and seemingly "coolest") number makes me think that the experience really did leave an impression on them. Woohoo!

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