Symphony orchestra awakens music appreciation in children

Violinist Martin Beech helps a child try out the violin after Sunday’s concert in West Chester.
Violinist Martin Beech helps a child try out the violin after Sunday’s concert in West Chester. Chris Barber — Digital First Media

WEST CHESTER >> Kennett Symphony of Chester County Director Michael Hall demonstrated on Sunday that even the youngest children can learn to appreciate good classical music.

In front of a packed house he had little kids clapping out rhythms, shouting out “Mambo!” and raising their hands when they heard the drums.

The annual Family Concert was presented in a new venue: The Henderson High School Auditorium in West Chester. Registration started out modestly, but when last week came around, ticket sales soared. When concert time came around, one orchestra official said the place was packed, and he even had to set up an extra row of modular seats in the back.

The music wasn’t especially light weight.


The orchestra started out with the theme from “Spiderman,” which most of the children seemed to know. Then it moved on to Bernstein’s “Mambo,” Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise,” Sibelius’s “At the Castle Gate,” Tchaikovsky “Movement 3 from Symphony No. 4,” Berlioz’s “Hungarian March,” Elgar’s “Nimrod, and Bizet’s “Farandole.”

Hall kept his young audience involved hands-on as he asked them to clap their own rhythm, raise their hands when they heard drums and listen for changes in the melody. With these tasks, he conveyed the building blocks of music to his listeners.

Additionally, he engaged the folks as he called for questions and answers about the bass with his musician Douglas Mapp, who at one point raised the instrument over his head to show how light it was.

Afterward, the orchestra members stepped into the audience and took their places at stations where they helped children try out instruments. The musicians were virtually mobbed, but they persisted and gave everyone a chance who was awaiting the opportunity to try.

Hall reminded his audience that the next event will take place at Mendenhall Inn on April 1. It is called “Mendelssohn, Mimosas and More,” and is described as an informal and new musical experience during which the visitors will be seated around the orchestra and will be able to get food during the concert.

For more information, go to

About the Author

Chris Barber

Chris Barber is the editor of the Avon Grove Sun. She was previously southern bureau chief of the Daily Local News and editor of the Kennett Paper, earning honors in writing and photography. Reach the author at .