Strings School Days offers theater and musical storytelling for kids this season
October 13, 2017
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Hundreds of tiny hands stretched desperately into the air in the Strings Music Pavilion on Wednesday, as if each student had the most burning question in the world that couldn't go without an answer.
On stage, actor and singer Destin LeMarr along with Bob Lucas, paused at the overwhelming excitement from the Q&A session during the Strings School Days performance.
"Do you like the music in the show?" one inquisitive student asked.
"You bet I do," said LeMarr. "This is one of the best stories I ever heard."
This week the Strings Music Festival kicked off its 2017-18 Strings School Days season with theater programming instead of music for the first time.
Actors from the Ohio based Mad River Theater Works Company, brought their two-man play "Wings of Courage" to the Pavilion.
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"By attending a live event, students experience music and theater, and connect with the actors and musicians, in a very real way — not on a screen," said Katie Carroll, Strings Music Festival's director of artistic administration and education. "We wanted to press on students so that they realize it's more than to just get out of school for an afternoon. We wanted to create an arch of experience."
The "Wings of Courage" story follows antagonist Eugene Bullard, the African-American professional boxer, jazz musician and World War I pilot, also a spy, as he tells his story which led him to fame as a bandleader in Paris during the 1920s.
On Oct. 24, students in kindergarten through second grade will see a concert by Jarabe Mexicano in the Pavilion.
Performing traditional Boleros, Huapangos and Cumbias on mariachi instruments accompanied by lively percussion, the Jarabe Mexicano concert will also introduce the culture and history of Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.
"The educational programs help students to appreciate diverse cultures and develop a broad worldview," said Carroll. "We hope these talented artists expose our young residents to the world beyond what they might experience in everyday life."
Before the performances, students receive a pre-show educational study guide titled "Musical Notes," created by Carroll, the guides align with Common Core state standards, guide teachers in incorporating field trips into curriculum and aid students in thinking critically about their experience.
"We made a huge effort to clearly define our program goals and knew we wanted to expose the kids to diverse cultures and different world views," said Carroll. "While also making sure we're encouraging their curiosity and the world they see on stage. That has always been in the background and is now in the foreground."
The Strings School Days program also serves middle and high school students, as well as students in outlying Routt and Moffat county communities.
Professional touring musicians mentor middle and high school band students through in-school workshops and video lessons. The program concludes with student musicians playing alongside professional musicians in a community concert and peer field trip.
Later this month, the Akropolis Reed Quintet and Shuffle will join the middle and high school students at the end of this month to work with kids in band classes for their community concerts that will take place at the Pavilion in March.