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The Gift of Music

Dec 04, 2012 09:16AM ● Published by tina

Gallery: Fort Worth Symphony Family Concert [4 Images] Click any image to expand.

By Terri Messing

I have two distinct childhood memories of attending the symphony orchestra. Both are still pretty vivid many years later. Combined, they made a big impression on me. This was the start of my life long involvement in and appreciation of classical music.

I was young for the first, maybe five years old. The conductor asked children to come to the stage and sit by an instrument they might like to play. Older kids walked to the stage but finally the conductor asked the smaller kids in the group to join in. I was shy and nervous at first but my parents encouraged me to walk on stage. I sat next to the woodwind section and one of musicians patted my head. I thought musicians were nice and fun.

A few years later, my aunt took me to a New York Philharmonic Young Person’s Concert under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. We sat close to the stage and I could hear the famous Maestro singing along. I recall thinking he must really like the music. He was having a really good time! I don’t remember much about the music but I do remember the famous conductor and I’m forever grateful for the experience of meeting him in person.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, the introduction to classical music geared towards my young mind was a gift. The very same gift I tried to give my own children when they were really little.  I started their introduction to the orchestra by taking them to open rehearsals and allowing them color along to the music.

My children are older and as the current chairman of Apex Art League I am thrilled to bring the gift of music to yet another generation of young children. To this end, I often think about how to best bring valuable and unique music experiences to the children of our community. Specifically, programs focused toward introducing the people, the instruments and the music directly to the ever-expanding minds of our youth.

Amy Adkins, the president of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra and I met last spring to discuss working together and the idea of a children’s concert came up and I thought it would be the perfect fit for all involved.

The inaugural Apex Presents Fort Worth Symphony Family concert in Southlake will take place Thursday January 17, at the impressive White’s Chapel United Methodist Church.  The event will start with a first of its kind instrument “petting zoo” for children. The petting zoo will provide children and their parents the unique opportunity to get up close and personal with orchestral instruments and the wonderful people who play them. Children will actually get to hold and play several instruments of their choice while interacting with various FWSO personnel and volunteers. Then at 7:00 they will be able to watch and listen as these instruments combine in perfect harmony. Best of all, the zoo will be open to all with a concert ticket at no extra charge.

According to Holly Kindt, Education and Community Outreach Manager for the FWSO, “The goal for this program is to spark interest in classical music in a fun and engaging way.” The concert is appropriate for preschoolers who can sit quietly as well as children of all ages.

Programming for the concert is geared toward families. FWSO Conductor Andres Franco will offer descriptive program information from the podium, introducing the music by relating to things that a young audience will understand… stories, family, events. The selections performed will be “great music” that is high energy and shorter in length- perfect for children.

If a night of incredible music isn’t enough please consider that scientific studies show an overwhelmingly positive effect of great music upon the human intellect and spirit. Higher test scores and better discipline seem to result from contact with great art. And direct involvement and engagement with different forms and styles of music can also help children focus better and develop better problem solving skills.

I remember enjoying both of the concerts I mentioned at the start of this article because they were designed with me in mind. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to experience orchestral music at a young age and pleased to be able to share this gift with the community. Through it all, my simple hope is for area parents to take advantage of this fabulous opportunity and plant a seed in their own children for a life-long love of music.

Terri Messing is the Chairman of the Apex Arts League. Tickets for the January 17 FWSO event are $40 Golden Circle (reserved seating), $20 Adults, $15 Students, Seniors and Apex members (general admission). Tickets can be purchased in advance at Apex Arts League or at the door.

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