Fifth-graders and their parents flocked Thursday to Gentry Middle School, where the kids tried out instruments and enrolled in sixth-grade band and orchestra.
Coinciding with the event, Bright Futures Columbia accepted donations of instruments for students whose families might not be able to afford them.
People were posted at each station to assist and instruct students in proper technique. James Melton, Columbia Public Schools’ fine arts coordinator, said the instructors were from several schools and included students from the University of Missouri and recent high school graduates.
Ethan Wampler, a 10-year-old Rock Bridge Elementary School student, was trying out the tuba.
He said he already had tested the baritone and trombone. The trumpet and French horn also were on his list to try. He said he wanted to try them all before he decided which was his favorite.
“I think it will be great for his learning,” said Ethan’s dad, Ryan Wampler, of his son’s musical interest. Wampler said he never played an instrument but that the whole family loves music.
Kate Friedman, also 10 and from Rock Bride Elementary, tried the cello. She was there with her parents, Steve and Marianne Friedman, and little brother, William.
“I liked it a lot,” Kate said of the cello. “I like the sound it makes; it’s kind of a low sound. It was fun.”
She said she had tried the violin and wanted to test the trumpet and saxophone.
“They try to match the child to the instrument,” Marianne Friedman added.
Nicholas Holman, 11, a student at Fairview Elementary School, was in line in a noisy hallway to try the French horn with his mother, Tiffany Holman.
He said he already had tried the percussion instruments but also wanted to try the clarinet, which school officials said at the beginning of the event was in big demand in the band and orchestra.
“I think this opportunity is giving him the chance to see if there’s an interest or not,” Tiffany Holman said.
Ben Tilley, CPS assistant superintendent for elementary education, and Meagan Schaffner, special projects director for the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, staffed the Bright Futures table, where several instrument donations came in.
Ruth Wright brought in two flutes her daughter played.
“It’s nice to pass it on so somebody who can’t afford it can have the same great experience,” Wright said.
Angie Hull donated a clarinet.
“I realized I wasn’t playing it anymore,” Hull said.
Melton said musical instruments’ cost can be an obstacle for many families, which is why Bright Futures is so valuable.
“You just never know who the next budding musician is going to be if you don’t give them the opportunity,” Melton said.
The Strike Up the Band Campaign will accept donated instruments again from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday at Lange Middle School, 2201 E. Smiley Lane, coinciding with band and orchestra enrollment night there.
Original Article - Columbia Tribune - Roger Mckinney
Original Photos - Columbia Tribune - Daniel Brenner