Music Memory Shares the Joy of Music

June 3, 2011

The Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra’s Music Memory program has high aspirations: to introduce children to great works of music and inspire in them a life-long appreciation of music.

Now in its second year on Cape Cod, the program seems to be working. On Wednesday, 144 students from 10 of the 16 schools involved in the program gathered at Barnstable High School’s Performing Arts Center to test their knowledge of 16 pieces of music that they have been studying since last October.

Guest conductor Joan Landry led 40 members of the CCSO and four vocal soloists in the performance of short excerpts from the pieces the students have been learning about. The students, in teams of 6 to 12 students, had 30 seconds to identify each piece–and the composer of each piece.

George Scharr, education director for the CCSO, emceed the event, and, after the students gave their answers, three judges let them know whether they were correct. As the judges repeatedly pointed out, the kids were amazing. These were third and fourth graders from elementary school and fifth and sixth graders from middle school identifying complex classical and jazz pieces: Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in d minor, “The Dance of the Clowns” from Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “12 American Preludes: No. 9, Tribute to Aaron Copland” by Ginestera, and many more.

Here are a couple of examples:

This, the last one, was particularly challenging:

The orchestra treated the kids to a full performance of the first movement from Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5–you know, it is the one that goes dah-dah-dah-daaaah. And ends with the two chords that most of the kids knew so well.

The students have clearly learned their music and had fun at the competition. More importantly, they seem to take great pleasure in the music itself and appreciate the skill of the musicians.  The program opens their ears to new music and new ways of listening to music; it should go a long way toward instilling in them a lifelong appreciation of music.

All the students received red or blue ribbons for their accomplishments.

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