Instrument Night Opens Up A World of Music

In mid-September, 3rd and 4th grade aspiring student musicians and their parents/guardians took their first step into the world of music performance. Near the start of each school year, the music department provides a chance for interested students to get hands-on experience with a variety of instruments and select just the right musical match for them.

Perhaps they’d like to play drums, clarinet, saxophone, violin, or cello? Maybe something else? There are a lot of options at Moses Brown for these eager students.

The same opportunity is made available for string and band instruments. The process starts when the Lower Schoolers are invited to join a class of Upper School musicians during a school day.

On this day, instructor Steve Toro (read more about Mr T!) gathers the students and talks about each instrument that’s in the room. “Then I have the Upper School kids play a musical scale, and talk about their instrument – how it gets the sound, what the material is that it’s made of, and other interesting tidbits about the instrument.”

Then the Lower Schoolers are treated to a brief performance by the full band ensemble.

A middle school drummer demonstrates her technique

“It’s really exciting for them, you can see the kid’s eyes wide-open and their ears are tuned in. It’s great,” Steve says.

“The next step is that I ask Middle School musicians to attend an instrumental night,” he adds, which is for the Lower School students and parents/guardians as well. “I always get a good group of people here.”

Similar to their visit with Upper School’s band, the Middle Schoolers share information about their instrument and then play a scale for demonstration.

Mr. T doesn’t prompt the students about how to answer, so they speak from their own base of knowledge and experience. Following the instrument-by-instrument run-down, the whole group plays a simple song as a group so that attendees can get a sense of how all of the instruments sound together.

“I call it my musical instrument petting zoo,” says Steve. It’s sort of like a buffet where a student can sample what they want.

From appearances, clearly many of the younger students had an instrument in mind before they arrived. Once the opportunity to mingle with the middle school presented itself, the younger students raced to the instrument they were most keen to see.

The Lower Schoolers got a chance to hold the instruments, and to hear it again, which helps in the process of choosing the instrument. A music store representative is on hand, with a full inventory of instruments and the books they need, which can be acquired the very same evening.

Just like that, they’re young musicians, opening up a whole new layer of learning and opportunity, which can be a vital part of a student’s overall education..

“It gives kids a way to be on a team within the school building playing music together,” says Steve. “Ensemble is a team effort because the ensemble kids need to listen to each other. They don’t just play for themselves, they’re playing for the 30, 40, 50 other kids on their team.”