A February Evening at the Boston Children’s Museum

On Friday, February 20th, From the Top’s Education team lead its group of young musicians through the snow-banked streets of Boston. This particular Friday evening would be a bit different than others, and not just because of the weather.

Amid the winding, bustling halls of the Boston Children’s Museum, there is a special, large space designed specifically for artistic productions. For the first time, our young musicians would share their music on the KidStage.

Violinist Betsey Kim commented on this special venue.

“The KidStage was great because it was much lower and smaller than conventional stages, which made it much easier to create that special bond between the performers and audience members.”

The audience filled the room to the brim.

The KidStage was a full house

The KidStage was a full house.

There was excitement and enthusiasm everywhere.

Music. It's. Powerful Stuff.

Music. It’s Powerful Stuff.

17-year-old violinist Yoo Jin Ahn, 16-year-old violinist Corinne Auger, 18-year-old cellist Audrey Chen, 16-year-old violist Betsy Kim, 18-year-old violist Martine Thomas, and 20-year-old pianist Jennifer Tu all came into the hall and took their places.

Jennifer Tu remembers her nervousness and excitement in preparing this special event.

“This was my first performance [with From the Top’s Center for the Development of Arts Leaders], so coming in, I didn’t know what to expect. Preparing for it, the enthusiasm and creativity of the team left me with a lasting impression as we collaborated on putting the program together.

Each musician introduced themselves and their instrument to the audience of children and families.

“The violin is like a box, and the sound comes out through these little holes,” Corinne Auger explained.

Corinne Auger showing the violin to the audience.

Corinne Auger showing the violin to the audience.

 “You wouldn’t think that the piano is a string instrument, but it is!” Jennifer Tu said. “Inside the piano, there are several strings with little hammers.”

Jennifer Tu talking to the audience about the piano.

Jennifer Tu talking to the audience about the piano.

Yoo Jin Ahn reflects on the structure of the presentation.

“Our team planned the pieces so that a couple of people would perform while the others would sit with the audience. This allowed us to quietly chat with the kids and answer their questions about classical music and instruments.”

In the process of talking to the audience, the arts leaders found that they often had to think on their feet in ways they didn’t anticipate in the planning process.

Betsey reflects on the performing process:

“It’s important to be flexible as a performer. Don’t hesitate to take risks in adjusting your program – changing things up is important!”

Yoo Jin remembers a few pleasant surprises.

“I came into the performance with many worries about the kids being bored and uninterested. While this did happen in some moments, I was very happy to see how excited and engaged the kids were by the same music I have loved for a long time. This performance has taught me that classical music is still relevant and powerful to all people.”

After the presentations on their instruments, the arts leaders began the performance.

Here is a clip of the string quartet playing Lynne Latham’s arrangement of The Nutcracker Suite by Tchaikovsky.

Audrey Chen then took the stage to perform “Sardana” from the Suite for Cello by Gaspard Cassado. Before performing the whole piece though, she explained what to listen for.

The finale was a highlight for Betsey Kim.

“My favorite moment was singing ‘Let It Go’ with all the kids who volunteered to go on stage.”

A very impressive ensemble resulted for a very popular tune, entirely appropriate for the weather outside.

When the last applause faded and the room cleared, the arts leaders were left to analyze this experience. This would continue well beyond this night.

Betsy Kim discusses on the biggest surprises the experience gave her.

 “I was pleasantly surprised by how receptive and enthusiastic the kids were about the music.”

Jennifer Tu says:

“Being able to connect with people through music is a gift that keeps on giving, building memories upon memories with people of all different ages and backgrounds.”

Yoo Jin Ahn shares her feelings on the human connection she achieved through classical music.

“The best part about the performance was the little interactive moments we had with the kids. I know realistically that the kids would not remember all the pieces and technical terms we shared, but I hope that they will be able to recall the friendships we made and connect those positive emotions to classical music. My biggest takeaway was the fact that classical music is relatable.”

After introducing young children to music in such a fun way (and many for the very first time!), we can’t wait to go back to the Boston Children’s Museum. No amount of snow will keep us away!

From the Top’s Center for the Development of Arts Leaders (CDAL) in Boston would like to thank the Boston Children’s Museum for this wonderful partnership, and for giving our young musicians such a fantastic leadership opportunity. To find out more about the museum, visit their website. To find out more about CDAL, click here