BY SHERI TRUSTY
About 20 fifth grade students participated in an unusual “musical petting zoo” at Port Clinton Middle School on Tuesday, April 18. The “animals” were oddly smooth and shiny, and definitely loud.
The students were guests at an Instrument Selection Party hosted by Port Clinton City Schools Orchestra Director Adam Murray. The event gave next year’s prospective band members the opportunity to pick up and try violins, violas and cellos.
Murray referred to the event as a string instrument “petting zoo” where students can “choose your very own instrument to start your journey.”
“The most important aspect of picking a new skill is being able to actually see yourself doing it,” Murray said. “We are one of the very few orchestra programs left in this part of the state. For a great majority of these students, it might be the first time for students to hear string instruments live, let alone seeing and holding one.”
The party included pizza, games and a photo booth to capture the students’ first steps into band. The Baroque Violin Shop was on hand with dozens of rental options so students could take their instruments home that night.
Murray said the idea to turn the event into a party came from his students.
“My high schoolers staffed and planned the entire thing, and our friends at the Baroque Violin Shop were so incredibly generous and flexible with their willingness to work with us in what is probably the most unconventional instrument selection night this district has ever seen,” Murray said.
The Instrument Selection Party inspired Aubree Lempke to change her mind about what to play.
“I was thinking about playing the violin, but I chose the cello,” she said. “I like it. It seems really fun to play, and it’s easy to play.”
Charlotte Ireland was sure she wanted to play violin before she arrived.
“I knew before I came. I like it because it has the highest pitch,” Ireland said. “I’m excited about next year.”
Donald McKeever spent the evening with his new cello strapped to his back.
“I chose cello because I thought it looked pretty cool, and I like how it sounds,” he said.
Lindsay Janoch of the Baroque Violin Shop said the store offered high-quality instruments for the students to rent.
“The idea is, if kids have good quality instruments, they are more likely to want to play and more likely to keep playing for life,” she said. “This is one of our favorite places because Mr. Murray is lots of fun and has fun things planned for the kids. It’s a great program.”