As part of the Orchestrating Kids through ClassicsTM (OKTC) program, a quartet of musicians from Lexington Symphony visits each participating school in the weeks prior to the main concert at Cary Hall in Lexington Center. These are exciting visits; the musicians get to share their love of music with 2nd to 4th graders while educating them and creating anticipation for their upcoming field trip to Cary Hall, where they will experience the whole orchestra.
Each school has a distinct character and finds a unique venue for the visiting musicians. The “concert halls” include a school cafeteria with noisy fans and the inviting aroma of warming pizza, a classroom crammed full with several classes, and a beautiful space in a converted farm building in rural Beverly – all in a day’s work. Sometimes the musicians have an opportunity to reflect on a particular school visit over a cup of coffee, or if they’re lucky, amidst an array of egg dishes at a local diner. (Check out the Sunnyside Cafe if you’re ever in Ashland.) Remembering the questions that the kids asked during the Q&A portion of the presentation brings a dose of laughter to the tired musicians.
Here’s a light-hearted look at some of the questions you might hear were you a fly on the wall at one of these school visits, along with (some of) our answers.
“Why did you choose to play the ….(fill in the blank)?” reveals that some of us were following in the footsteps of older siblings, others were responding to an instrument demo in school, and that trying out different instruments is definitely a must!
“How heavy is the tuba?” not only allows Jobey to show off his upper body strength but also to issue a warning that “Mama Bear” is coming to Cary Hall, and that what the kids are seeing and hearing is only “Baby Bear.” They love that.
“Can you play your clarinet without a reed?” “Let’s see.” Bill removes said reed from mouthpiece, blows with all his might, turning a deep shade of crimson, and there is silence, except for the giggles of a room full of kids.
“Have you ever had a hamster in your tuba?” Jobey is quick with the answer to this one: “Of course not, silly. I take it into the shower with me to keep it squeaky clean”. Never a truer word spoken – Jobey does indeed hose down his tuba once in a while. Hands off the string instruments!
“Why do you all wear black?” Our resident lawyer comes in handy here. Rebecca explains how we want the music to take front seat and don’t want to draw attention to ourselves as individuals.
“What’s your favorite chocolate?” This question was in response to an inspired moment when Liz tried to explain what “Theme and Variations” are and used chocolate as the theme. (Cadbury is correct answer.)
“Can you play…..?” Fill in whatever is the latest popular kid’s movie. Bill is quick to note that this sounds more like a request than a question. But every now and then Jobey will acquiesce with a quick excerpt from Super Mario Bros.
“How much do you earn?” has to be the question that floored us all this time round. Bill, the MC, quickly looked around for someone else who was willing to answer the question. After the obligatory “not enough”, we went on to extol the joys of life as a performer and the fulfillment of teaching youngsters and steered clear of all the uncertainty associated with life as a free-lance musician.
“What does the conductor ACTUALLY do?” We’ll let the maestro answer that one!!