Violins. Violas. Do you know the difference? What about cellos and harps? Do you know how many strings are on a harp? A few members of the Old Bridge Chamber Orchestra recently visited the Montclair Community Library to help give children an appreciation for and educational experience with classical music.
Aysha Burt, a fifth grade teacher who will be teaching at Benita Fitzgerald Elementary School in the coming school year, led the discussion at the Musical Instrument Petting Zoo with musicians that included her sister, Sheyna Burt on violin, Chris Dixon also on violin, Joan Burdette on cello and Ann Levy on viola.
The musicians showed the children the difference between a violin and a viola. They learned how the cello sounds, and they learned how many strings are on a harp.
Aysha said the concert for the children was aimed at entertaining, as well as teaching and possibly motivating them. "I hope that kids get a sense of music in a way that gets them interested in orchestral music, musical sounds that come from instruments they've never seen before, never heard before. If they have heard them before, they get to see them in real life for the first time."
Aysha also said that hearing classical music might give children a new perspective on music and listening. "It helps them get a new view of what musical instruments are… It's not just keyboards. It's not just the guitar. It widens their perspective, which is good for our kids."
Sheyna Burt said that she has two answers about why children should be exposed to all kinds of music. "The nerdy answer is that there are scientific studies that say it's good for their development. It's good for their brains. It makes them better learners, more well-rounded. The passionate answer is that the broader their exposure to things that are different from what they see every day, the better humans they become."
Sheyna said she gets a kick out of performing at libraries. "I love it. I know what it meant to me to be exposed to it. I feel compelled to give that back."
Katie Taylor, a former cellist, brought her sons Patrick, 5, and Finn, 2, with their dad, Mark, to see the show in the hope that the boys would be inspired. "It's just about getting them excited about music and playing an instrument."
Jordyn Dari, 7, and her brother Jayden, 10, visited the library with their mother. Jayden said he liked what he heard. "The music they played sounded really good."
Jordyn said she, too, enjoyed hearing the music. She said she learned a few things, as well. "I like how it was really beautiful, and you learn new facts. I learned that the harp has 47 strings."
The quartet from the chamber orchestra has the following appearances scheduled at other libraries across the county:
- June 28, 2:30 p.m. – Central Community Library at 8601 Mathis Ave. in Manassas;
- July 21, 2 p.m. – Bull Run Regional Library at 8051 Ashton Ave. in Manassas;
- July 25, 2 p.m. – Potomac Community Library at 2201 Opitz Blvd. in Woodbridge; and
- Aug. 2, 10:30 a.m. – Chinn Park Regional Library at 13065 Chinn Park Drive in Woodbridge.
For more information about library programs, visit pwcgov.org/library.