Story by Susan Motander
Photos by Terry Miller
Earlier this week the Music Mobile of the Pasadena Conservatory of Music visited Wild Rose Elementary School in Monrovia. For many of the third grade students who participated in the program, it was a first exposure to music, especially orchestral music. The Music Mobile is funded by the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts.
Crystal Peralta of the Conservatory introduced more than forty students in each of two groups to the four families of the orchestra and outlined a few of the characteristics of each group. For each group she had an illustration to help the students understand how each worked and what sorts of sounds the instruments make. For the strings she illustrated her words with a demonstration of showing how the sounds of the cello were used to make cartoon sound tracks. And that was only one example.
Peralta has the student forming their lips in the correct position to play the various wind and brass instruments. She showed them how to hold the various stringed instruments and illustrated the way to play the various xylophones, drums and maracas that make up part of the percussion family. Then the students were allowed to experiment.
In groups of ten or so each, the students approached each of the four tables on which the instruments were laid out. The students were then encouraged to pick up the instruments and play then. Each students had a chance to play at least one member of each group.
The resulting music was joyous, perhaps a bit more cacophonous than symphonic, but the students were enthusiastic. In each group it was always a young boy you headed for the snare drum, and somehow the smallest girl in each group ended up with the tuba. It was delightful…loud, but happy.
The “music” the students created can be described as a rather enthusiastic melding of various tones: squeaks, squawks, screeches, and blats with a continuous underlay of giggles and joy. Beyond all else, the students enjoyed themselves and appreciated the sounds they produced.
Between groups, when Peralta was asked why she enjoyed introducing the children to the orchestra, bit by bit, she explained that she had not had much exposure to instrumental music growing up until she reached Middle School. “If children are not exposed to these things, they cannot not know if they have a desire to play an instrument. This is a chance for them to see if they have a passion for music,” she said.
This is only one project of the Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts. Each year the group opens a redecorated home for tours. The proceeds from the sale of tickets fund not only the Music Mobile to introduce third grade students to the orchestra, but also a concert for fourth graders at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown Los Angeles. They also provide scholarships to music students as well as funding small grants for music and art programs throughout the area. Showcase has been doing this for more than fifty years.
Tickets are already available on line for this year’s house. The House will be open from April 25th through May 21st. For more information or to purchase tickets go the group’s website www.pasadenashowcase.org