This past summer I challenged the students of the Meadowmount School of Music to find creative ways to express their passion for classical music and inspire new audiences to share this passion. The students responded to my challenge with a variety of projects that reached out into their home communities and communicated directly with diverse audiences. Project ideas ranged from YouTube videos featuring teenage musicians to chamber music concerts designed with the needs of autistic children in mind.
One of the ideas that emerged from this challenge was an organization called ClassiCool Kids. Hanna Rumora and Christine Lui, two high school cellists studying at Meadowmount, envisioned an organization that supports other teenage artists who are committed to performing for elementary school audiences. Hanna and Christine, who perform at local elementary schools once a month, use a ClassiCool Kids facebook page to post about their experiences and exchange advice with other performers.
Below is a guest post from Hanna wherein she shares her insight into the importance of ClassiCool Kids and her personal experiences working with elementary students.
Classical music has become a widely misunderstood art. Fewer young people are attending classical concerts, and if this trend continues, classical music could disappear altogether. Classical music is a unique genre that truly involves the listener, unlike some other more popular types of music. The only way to help this situation is to get young people involved and interested in classical music. Because classical music plays such a major role in my life, I want to spread understanding and love of it to others. By bringing classical music to students, we will open their minds to a form of art they may not have previously been aware of. This is what ClassiCool Kids is trying to do.
ClassiCool Kids started at Meadowmount School of Music in the Summer of 2011, and has been giving outreach performances starting this school year. There are currently several members trying to spread music.
After brainstorming, our group came to the conclusion that it would be most beneficial to introduce classical music to young people. The plan thus far includes several high school musicians presenting monthly in front of classes at schools in their area. Presentations include a brief, simple introduction to the musicians’ instruments; some fun, easy games (i.e. having the students guess ‘animal’ noises that we can make on the instrument); short pieces that they could recognize; some short excerpts of ‘real’ classical music, like beginnings of concertos; and finally a time for the students to ask questions. If the musicians feel comfortable, they can also take requests for songs.
We have just gotten started with this, but so far, one of the highlights from our performances is watching the students close their eyes and listen to an entire movement of a concerto while drawing to and from different melodies. Students have been allowed to try the cello, which they all enjoyed greatly. All of the children enjoy hearing some of their favorite tunes played on cello. It has been inspirational to watch the students come up with great ideas around what the music is about. When they listened to Elegie by Faure, students thought of a funeral. When they heard the second movement of the Elgar Cello Concerto, the children all agreed it could be accurately represented by the idea of a cat chasing a mouse.
Our group is in a very crucial stage right now. If we want to continue to spread classical music, then it is necessary that all our members continue to take part. We always welcome additional members. If you love classical music, and would like to share this love, then hop on board. There isn’t much you have to do other than give a performance every so often. If you share our goals, then it is important that you get involved as well.
Our goal is to spread understanding of classical music to others. This isn’t necessarily the easiest thing to measure, but if teachers in the area begin to have more students, and local orchestras are selling more tickets, then we know that it is working. It is rewarding just to watch their expressions throughout the presentations. The kids light up as music is played, and they love to share their ideas and learn what our presenters have to offer.
Once, about a week after a presentation, a student raised her hand during individual work time in class. She asked, “May we listen to music while we work please? Classical music?” The students are now excited to listen to classical music while they work.
Simple things like this make all of our work and efforts worthwhile.
Become a Friend of the ClassiCool Kids on Facebook! You can also check out their podcast!